The following passage on criminogenic needs is excerpted from “Tools of the Trade: A Guide to Incorporating Science into Practice,” p. 26; Faye S. Taxman, Ph.D., Eric S. Shepardson, James M. Byrne, Ph.D.
Criminogenic Needs are factors in an offender’s life that are directly related to recidivism. Research has identified six factors that are directly related to crime: low self-control, anti-social personality, anti-social values, criminal peers, substance abuse and dysfunctional family.
The inability to control one’s own behavior has been directly linked to crime. Offenders are more likely to commit illegal acts when they do not have the ability to control their impulses. For example, an offender who has low self control is more likely to use narcotics than an offender who has a higher level of self-control. Self-control helps dictate the way offenders behave themselves.
Certain personality traits, i.e. callousness, are another factor that have been directly linked to criminality. Offenders who display anti-social personality traits often will not care how their actions affect others and therefore may not feel any remorse for what they have done. The criminal personality helps justify the actions of the offender by making it easier for offenders to commit illegal acts.
Anti-social values allow offenders to disassociate themselves not only with the community but with the values and norms of the community. These types of attitudes help offenders retreat from their surroundings where they are alone with their thoughts and ideas while having minimal interaction within others within the community who are not engaged in criminal conduct.
Associating with other criminals increases the likelihood of an offender recidivating. If an offender is immersed in a group of peers who continue to commit unlawful acts, it will be more likely that this offender will commit more crimes. Offenders are more susceptible to peer pressure just like everyone else and if their peers are committing crimes, they will feel it is necessary to break the law in order to fit in.
Research has shown that there is a relationship between substance abuse and criminal behavior. Continued substance abuse is an illegal act itself for offenders on supervision. There are other issues related to substance abuse, i.e. the need for money that can lead offenders to committing a crime to get money for drugs.
If an offender comes from a dysfunctional family, the offender is more likely to be in a setting where they can learn criminal or substance abuse behaviors. In these situations, offenders may not have ever had a positive role model within the home to help teach morals and values. These offenders are at a disadvantage because from an early age, they are taught that certain values and norms are acceptable.