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"Do mentors in crime enhance their proteges' success?" Article by Professor Bill McCarthy

Much of the research on mentorship in conventional fields concludes that mentored individuals experience more prosperous careers. Early research in criminology made a similar claim; yet, contemporary criminology has all but ignored mentors. In a recent publication Bill McCarthy and co-authors investigate the role of criminal mentors in the lives of a sample of incarcerated offenders.

2006 Morselli, Carlo, Pierre Tremblay, and Bill McCarthy. “Mentors and Criminal Achievement.” Criminology 44:17-44.

Abstract

Much of the research on mentorship in conventional fields concludes that mentored individuals experience more prosperous careers. Early research in criminology made a similar claim. Yet, contemporary criminology has all but ignored mentors. We investigate this oversight, drawing on Sutherland’s insights on tutelage and criminal maturation and incorporating ideas on human and social capital. We argue that mentors
play a key role in their protégés’ criminal achievements and we examine this hypothesis with data from a recent survey of incarcerated adult male offenders in the province of Quebec (Canada). In this sample, a substantial proportion of respondents reported the presence of an influential individual in their lives who introduced them to a criminal milieu and whom they explicitly regarded as a mentor. After studying the attributes of offenders and their mentors, we develop a causal framework that positions the criminal mentor within general crime pathways oriented toward greater benefits and lower costs.


The article is available here.