THE LOSERS' GAME: A SOCIOLOGICAL PROFILE OF 500 ARMED BANK ROBBERS

JAMES FRANCIS HARAN, Fordham University

Abstract

This dissertation is an in-depth analysis of the backgrounds and crimes of 500 armed bank robbers convicted between 1964 and 1976. Over the time span changes in the social makeup of the robbers were documented. In the 1960's 63% of the robbers were white males, older (over 25), married, poorly educated and lacked employable skills. The majority were property theft offenders. There were few first offenders or drug addicts.^ By the 1970's 61% of the bank robbers were black males and 58% were under 26 years of age. They were mostly young, single, unattached males, poorly educated with no employable skills. Sixty-nine percent of the latter bank robbers were unemployed at the time of the robbery, and 39% were now drug addicts. Eighty-one percent had some prior arrest record.^ Recent robberies were hit and miss affairs showing little sophisticated planning. Although heavily armed, the robbers rarely discharged their weapons except in cases of police pursuit. Most of the robberies were commited by gangs of three although there were some lone bank robbers. The majority were apprehended within thirty days. They averaged slightly more than $3,000 per robber.^ The study developed four typologies of bank robbers. The heavy career type with a commitment to crime as a way of life, making his living from thefts of various kinds. The compulsive type who engages in this crime to obtain funds for his drug abuse, mainly heroin. The casual type who dabbles in crime from time to time but does not have a career type commitment. The amateur type, a first offender, or one with minor brushes with the law prior to the bank robbery.^ It is concluded bank robbers are not a homogeneous group. However the courts treat all bank robbers as career type criminals, imposing long prison sentences resulting in denial of early parole. Bank robbers currently constitute 25% of federal prisoners and serve average terms of ten years. The four typologies offer a differentiated method of sentencing which might reduce prison population, permit earlier parole for some, inhibit inmate identification with crime and still offer community protection.^

Subject Area

Criminology

Recommended Citation

HARAN, JAMES FRANCIS, "THE LOSERS' GAME: A SOCIOLOGICAL PROFILE OF 500 ARMED BANK ROBBERS" (1982). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8219245.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8219245

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