CJRC & IPR co-sponsored seminar
Data collection using the life event calendar method is growing, but reliability and validity are not well established. We examine test-retest reliability of monthly self-reports of criminal behavior collected using a life event calendar from a random sample of minimum security prisoners. Tabular analysis indicates over eighty percent agreement between self-reports of drug dealing, property, and violent crime during a baseline interview (test) and a follow-up (retest) approximately three weeks later. Hierarchical analysis reveals that criminal activity reported during the initial test is strongly associated with responses given in the retest, and that the relationship varies only by the lag in days between the initial interview and the retest. Analysis of validity reveals that self-reported criminal history is strongly predictive of official criminal history, that African American's provide more valid responses relative to other groups, and that subjects reporting higher illegal earnings provide less valid responses. However, in practical terms the differences are not large, suggesting that self-reports of criminal behavior collected in criminal justice settings using a life event calendar are acceptably reliable and valid.