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Pre-Radicalization Criminal Activity of United States Extremists


Previous research (Jensen et al. 2016, 2017; LaFree et al. 2018) based on the Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States (PIRUS) dataset shows that U.S.-based extremists who engage in criminal acts prior to radicalizing are at an increased risk of engaging in ideologically motivated violence once they have adopted extremist beliefs. This research brief explores this finding further by using expanded data on the 397 extremists in the PIRUS dataset who engaged in criminal acts prior to radicalizing. This includes an analysis of the likelihood of pre-radicalization criminality for U.S. extremists, a look at the pre-radicalization criminal behaviors that are most prevalent amongst extremists with criminal histories, and information on the average age of earliest criminal activity for non-violent and violent extremists.

Publication Information

Full Citation:

Jensen, Michael, and Patrick James, Gary LaFree, Aaron Safer-Lichtenstein. 2018."Pre-Radicalization Criminal Activity of United States Extremists" START Research Brief. College Park, Maryland. January.