Crime Classification Manual
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Crime Classification Manual

A Standard System for Investigating and Classifying Violent Crime

John E. Douglas, Ann W. Burgess, Allen G. Burgess, Robert K. Ressler

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eBook - ePub

Crime Classification Manual

A Standard System for Investigating and Classifying Violent Crime

John E. Douglas, Ann W. Burgess, Allen G. Burgess, Robert K. Ressler

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Praise for Crime Classification Manual

"The very first book by and for criminal justice professionals in the major case fields.... The skills, techniques, and proactive approaches offered are creatively concrete and worthy of replication across the country.... Heartily recommended for those working in the 'front line' of major case investigation."
—John B. Rabun Jr., ACSW, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

"[CCM] is an outstanding resource for students pursuing forensic science degrees. It provides critical information on major crimes, which improve the user's ability to assess and evaluate."
—Paul Thomas Clements, PhD, APRN-BC, CGS, DF-IAFN Drexel University Forensic Healthcare Program

The landmark book standardizing the language, terminology, and classifications used throughout the criminal justice system

Arranged according to the primary intent of the criminal, the Crime Classification Manual, Third Edition features the language, terms, and classifications the criminal justice system and allied fields use as they work to protect society from criminal behavior.

Coauthored by a pioneer of modern profiling and featuring new coverage of wrongful convictions and false confessions, the Third Edition:

  • Tackles new areas affected by globalization and new technologies, including human trafficking and internationally coordinated cybercrimes
  • Expands discussion of border control, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Homeland Security
  • Addresses the effects of ever-evolving technology on the commission and detection of crime

The definitive text in this field, Crime Classification Manual, Third Edition is written for law enforcement personnel, mental health professionals, forensic scientists, and those professionals whose work requires an understanding of criminal behavior and detection.

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Part I
Crime Analysis and Investigation
Chapter 1
Crime Classification: Past and Present
Within hours, on July 23, 2011, the Internet detailed the crimes of a 32-year-old Norwegian, Anders Behring Breivik, who was accused of (and later confessed to) killing 77 people. He portrayed his acts as “atrocious” yet “necessary.”
It took police over an hour to stop the massacre because of the problems with transport out to the island. Witnesses said the gunman, wearing a police uniform, was able to shoot unchallenged for a prolonged period, forcing youngsters to scatter in panic or to jump into the lake to swim for the mainland.
Breivik gave himself up after admitting to a massacre in which mostly young people died while attending a summer camp of the youth wing of Norway's ruling Labour Party on a peaceful island. Breivik was also arrested for the earlier bombing of Oslo's government district that killed seven people hours earlier.
A video posted to the YouTube Web site showed several pictures of Breivik, including one of him in a Navy Seal–type scuba diving outfit pointing an automatic weapon. “Before we can start our crusade we must do our duty by decimating cultural Marxism,” said a caption under the video called “Knights Templar 2083” that also provided a link to a 1,500-page electronic manifesto stating that Breivik was the author.
Breivik, tall and blond, owned an organic farming company called Breivik Geofarm, which a supply firm said he had used to buy fertilizer—possibly to make the Oslo bomb. On August 23, 2012, a Norwegian court found that Anders Behring Breivik was sane when he killed 77 people in a bombing and shooting rampage, and sentenced him to a maximum of 21 years for “terrorist acts” (Criscione, 2012).
This case illustrates the planning, motive, and horrific actions of a mass murderer and the abject terror and panic in the words of the surviving victims. This type of antigovernment militant is not unique. It has struck also in the United States. Timothy McVeigh, 33, killed 168 people, between the ages of 4 months and 73 years, with a truck bomb in Oklahoma City in November 1995. Fort Hood, located near Killeen, Texas, was the site of another mass shooting on October 16, 1991, when George Hennard, 35, drove his pickup truck through the windows of Luby Cafeteria's restaurant and shot and killed 23 people before turning the gun on himself. He also wounded 20 people. On November 8, 2009, a U.S. Army psychiatrist, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, opened fire inside Fort Hood in Texas. Thirteen people were killed, and 30 people were injured.
When measuring crime and its victims, these four mass murderers claimed the lives of 281 victims. And for all the victims who died, many more were serious injured physically and, along with their families, were predicted to have long-lasting traumatic memories. Domestic terrorism, as a crime classification of extremist homicide, is increasing.
Violent crimes of murder and rape continue to be of increasing concern in our society. They represent serious interpersonal assaultive behaviors, and law enforcement officials feel public pressure to apprehend the perpetrators as quickly as possible.
Traditionally, most violent crimes such as murder were fairly easy for law enforcement to solve and make an arrest. However, there has been a changing nature of violent crime itself over the past several decades and law enforcement's ability to make arrests following crimes appears to have significantly diminished in recent years. This is especially true for homicide: From 1980 to 1996, the rate at which homicide cases were cleared nationally decreased more than 7% (Brown & Langan, 2001).
Clearance rates for murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, according to the Uniform Crime Reports, declined from 93% in 1961 to 65% in 1993. The most prevalent type of homicide 30 years ago was acquaintance homicide, involving the victim's knowing the assailant in some way. While the overall clearance rate of acquaintance homicide is increasing, the same cannot be said of stranger-to-stranger homicide. A wide range of social stressors, including guns and drugs, contribute to the rising incidence of stranger-to-stranger homicides. Investigators are faced with a type of homicide that has a high likelihood of never being solved (Richardson & Kosa, 2001).
A study of San Diego homicide trends between 1970 and 1980 (Gilbert, 1983) identified a marked increase in stranger-to-stranger homicides. While the proportion of acquaintance homicides decreased from 67% of all homicide cases in 1970 to 34% in 1980, the rate of felony homicides, specifically robbery-related homicides, increased significantly. The study concluded that the decline of homicide clearance rates can be attributed to an increase in stranger-to-stranger homicides.

Historical Perspective

Understanding behavior and methodology has been a challenge to the civilized world. The term dangerous class has been used throughout history to describe individuals who are deemed a threat to law and order. Initially, the term described the environment in which one lived or was found to be living in versus the type of crime being committed. An example of this occurred in England at the end of the Hundred Years' War with France. The demobilization of thousands of soldiers, coupled with the changing economic trade market, saw the homeless population increase nationwide with the displacement of farmers (Rennie, 1977). During the reign of England's Henry VIII, 72,000 major and minor thieves were hanged. Under his daughter, Elizabeth I, vagabonds were strung up in rows, as many as 300 or 400 at a time (Rennie, 1977).
Categorizing these individuals began to change in 1838 when the winning entry at the French Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques, the highly competitive academic society, was titled “The Dangerous Classes of the Population in the Great Cities, and the Means of Making Them Better” (Rennie, 1977). The term dangerous class was then used to describe individuals who were criminals or had such potential. Initially, these were the poor, homeless, and unemployed in the large cities.
Classification of offenders began with the work of statistics. This early work permitted a comparison of the incidence of crime with factors, such as race, age, sex, education, and geography (Rennie, 1977). Cesare Lombrosos, the famed Italian physician, is generally credited with launching the scientific era in criminology. In 1872 he differentiated five types of criminals—the born criminal, the insane criminal, the criminal by passion, the habitual criminal, and the occasional criminal (Lindesmith & Dunham, 1941)—based on Darwin's theory of evolution. The operational definitions for the five groups that were developed allowed subsequent investigators to test Lombrosos's formulations empirically. A majority of his hypotheses and theories proved to be invalid, but the fact that they were testable was an advancement for the science (Megargee & Bohn, 1979).
Englishman Charles Goring refuted the Lombrosian theory of the degenerate “criminal man” in 1913, concluding, “The one vital mental constitutional factor in the etiology of crime is defective intelligence” (Goring, 1913, p. 369). This concept persisted for several decades. Henry Goddard, who did his early work on feeblemindness in 1914, reported that 50% of all offenders were defective (Goddard, 1914). As psychometric techniques improved, the finding of mental deficiency changed. Murchison in 1928 concluded that those in “the criminal group are superior in intelligence to the white draft group of WWI” (Bromberg, 1965). As studies progressed, it became obvious that a disordered personality organization (including psychoses, neuroses, and personality problems) was a more significant factor in crime than feeblemindedness.
With increasing rapidity, from the late 1930s to the World War II years to the present, interest has shifted away from insanity and mental defectiveness to personality disturbances in analyzing the genesis of crime. In the decades before the report of Bernard Glueck (1918) from Sing Sing Prison in New York State, the focus in crime study was on subnormal mentality.
In 1932 the Psychiatric Clinic of the Court of General Sessions in New York began to classify each offender according to a personality evaluation, thus combining the insights of psychoanalysis, descriptive psychiatry, and behavioral phenomenology. Each convicted offender presented was analyzed in relation to four categories: (a) presence or absence of psychosis, (b) intellectual level, (c) presence of psychopathic or neurotic features and/or personality diagnosis, and (d) physical condition.
Typologies of crime traditionally have been developed addressing the criminal offense. The psychiatric perspective to understanding crime has used two approaches: scrutiny of the inner (mental and moral) world of the criminal offender and examination of the external (social) world in which he lives (Bromberg, 1965).
A project at the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in New York City, spanning 1932 to 1965 (Bromberg, 1965), found that the personality patterns of criminals far outshadowed the significance of psychotic or defective diagnoses in terms of analyzing criminal behavior and in assisting the court and probation department in estimating the potential or deficits of the individual offender. Fifteen personality diagnoses were established by this project.
The investigation of the psychological motivations and social stresses that underlie crime has proved that the behavior patterns involved in criminal acts are not far removed from those of normal behavior. Studies indicate that criminal behavior, as is true of all other behavior, is responsive to inner and outer stresses. The external realities of mental life—social pressures, cultural emphases, physical needs, subcultural patterns of life—precipitate criminal action. The inner realities of behavior—neurotic reactions, impulses, unconscious motivations, preconscious striving, eruption of infantile aggressions—represent a precondition to criminal acts. Criminal behavior is suggested to derive from three behavioral areas: (a) the aggressive tendency, both destructive and acquisitive; (b) passive, or subverted, aggression; and (c) psychological needs (Bromberg, 1965).
Several research-based classification typologies for offenders have been developed. Julian Roebuck in 1967 provided rules to classify offenders based on the frequency and recency of their offenses during their criminal career. According to this system, an offender can be classified into a single offense pattern. The function of his typology was in terms of explanatory theory rather than in terms of diagnostic systems used in treatment. Investigation into the offender's arrest history, regardless of length, was the primary tool used in developing a classification system. The total of known arrests, included with behavior, allowed for the observance of a pattern, if one existed. One basic assumption used was that the arrest pattern would indicate a pattern of behavior or criminal career. The most frequent charge or charges in the history was the basis for classification (Roebuck, 1967). An obvious weakness is that not all criminals have accurate arrest histories.
Classification of criminal offenders has been and is an important component in correctional facilities throughout the United States. In 1973 the National Advisory Commission called for criminal classification programs to be initiated throughout the criminal justice system (Megargee & Bohn, 1979). This has not been an easy task. The correctional system is a complex, expanding, expensive operation that has accountability to society, individual communities, correctional staff, and the inmates themselves. The current trend within the correctional system has been growth of the inmate population with a modest growth in facilities. As the population within the system is faced with economic and now medical issues (such as AIDS), classification is a cost-effective and efficient management and treatment tool. It provides a common language for the various professional groups to communicate among themselves.
Megargee and Bohn (1979) found during their research project that a comprehensive classification system must take into account many different components of the criminal population. They stressed that an important element in any such system is the personality and behavioral pattern of the individual offender.
In the 1980s, a research team at the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, began a research program to classify sexual offenders (Knight, Rosenberg, & Schneider, 1985). Their application of a programmatic approach to typology construction and validation has produced taxonomic systems for both child molesters and rapists. The classification for child molesters has demonstrated reasonable reliability and consistent ties to distinctive developmental antecedents. In addition, results of a 25-year recidivism study ...


  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright
  4. Dedication
  5. Preface
  6. Part I: Crime Analysis and Investigation
  7. Part II: The Classifications
  8. Part III: Legal Issues
  9. About the Editors
  10. About the Contributors
  11. Citation Index
  12. Name Index
  13. Subject Index
Zitierstile für Crime Classification Manual

APA 6 Citation

Douglas, J., Burgess, A., Burgess, A., & Ressler, R. (2013). Crime Classification Manual (3rd ed.). Wiley. Retrieved from (Original work published 2013)

Chicago Citation

Douglas, John, Ann Burgess, Allen Burgess, and Robert Ressler. (2013) 2013. Crime Classification Manual. 3rd ed. Wiley.

Harvard Citation

Douglas, J. et al. (2013) Crime Classification Manual. 3rd edn. Wiley. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

Douglas, John et al. Crime Classification Manual. 3rd ed. Wiley, 2013. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.