The All-volunteer Force and Crime: The Effects of Military Participation on Offending Behavior


This study examines whether an individual serving in the military is likely to reduce their risk of offending in the future.



Sampson and Laub's age-graded theory of informal social control posits that social bonds created through marriage, military, and employment lead to a decrease of criminal behavior or desistance. Most research has focused primarily on the roles of marriage and employment in this process, ignoring the impact of military service on future offending behavior. However, recent US military involvement in the Middle East suggests that the effects of military experience on individuals should be reevaluated. Using data collected from a more recent sample of military-involved individuals, all of whom served in the All-volunteer Force, this study examines how participation in the military impacts offending and potential desistance. The results demonstrate that, overall, modern-day military involvement does not have the same protective effect on future offending as observed in World War II samples. Racial subgroup analyses, however, suggest that military involvement leads to a greater likelihood of desistance for minority service members.

Full Reference

The All-volunteer Force and Crime. Jessica M. Craig, Nadine M. Connell. Armed Forces & Society. Vol 41, Issue 2, pp. 329 - 351