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Juvenile Offender Study Proves Incarceration Has Few Benefits

April 20, 2011 |

http://www.thecrimereport.org/system/storage/185/d3/2/830/pathwaystodesistance.pdf

A study by the U.S. Department of Justice proves what New Jersey criminal defense attorneys have always believed:  Long-term incarceration for juvenile offenders does nothing to reduce recidivism rates.  Instead of incarceration, community-based supervision and other methods can be used to reduce the risk that offenders will be processed through the criminal justice system again.

The study, Highlights from Pathways to Distance: a Longitudinal Study of Serious Adolescent Offenders, analyzed 1,354 serious juvenile offenders between the ages of 14 and 18 over a period of seven years after the offenders were convicted.  The study found that long periods of incarceration for these offenders were ineffective in reducing recidivism rates. 

The researchers also found that there was a decrease in self-reported offending for the most serious offenders, and that community-based supervision was more effective at reducing recidivism. Offenders who have the benefit of community-based supervision go to school, work and decrease the risk of reoffending, the study found.

The study also pointed to the effectiveness of substance abuse treatment programs and counseling to reduce recidivism rates.

According to the study, approximately 91.5 percent of juvenile offenders greatly reduced their risk of offending over a period of three years after their conviction. The researchers concluded that even juvenile offenders who have committed serious crimes are not necessarily at a high risk of turning into adult criminals. Out of the people in the study, only a small proportion of the offenders continued to commit offenses throughout the study and follow-up period.

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