SPOTLIGHT: Carlos Monteiro, a doctoral student in the Northeastern University School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, is the recipient of a Spring 2015 Dissertation Completion Fellowship. Carlos Monteiro’s dissertation, Understanding Persistent Offending Among Incarcerated Offenders through General Strain Theory, involves testing the ability of Agnew’s General Strain Theory (GST) to explain misconduct among an adult correctional population. He is interested the role that stressors of living in prison might add to the strains otherwise experienced by inmates, and he argues that responses to these additional strains will be able to explain variations in levels of prison misconduct.
Causal ordering issues that have plagued earlier work required that Carlos collect longitudinal time-ordered panel data to assess inmates across three points in time. To reach an adequate sample size, Carlos needed to survey at least 100 currently incarcerated offenders at admission and at 30 and 90 days after admission to measure baseline and changing levels of strain, negative emotions, coping, and misconduct. Early release and attrition meant he had to oversample by at least a third to reach his target sample size.
Through weekly trips to two correctional facilities for over a year, he ultimately surveyed 171 inmates, with 108 completing all three of the consecutive surveys. Carlos is currently finalizing his analysis and writing the final chapters of his dissertation. When complete, Carlos’s dissertation will represent the most robust test of GST among a correctional population conducted to date.