Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2006, $20,000)
The purpose of this research is to investigate the impact of incarceration environments on young offender recidivism in California. Broadly, it examines the impact of incarcerating like-aged young offenders in an adult prison versus a state-run juvenile correctional facility. More specifically, this study will identify the particular characteristics of incarceration environments and the individual that significantly impact recidivism.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation espouses a reliance on 'evidence-based' practices, and this research offers an empirical investigation of the most appropriate correctional housing and handling of young offenders to decrease the likelihood of their recidivism. Objective measures of Toch's (1977) identified dimensions of important environmental concerns in concert with pre-incarceration characteristics of the offender will be used to predict recidivism.
The following research questions will be addressed: 1) Do young offenders that serve time in juvenile correctional facilities recidivate less than young offenders that serve time in adult prisons (over and above the effects of being handled by the criminal justice system versus the juvenile justice system)?, 2) What characteristics of the incarceration environment impact the recidivism of young offenders?, 3) What pre-incarceration characteristics of the individual predict the recidivism of young offenders?, 4) How do pre-incarceration characteristics and incarceration environment characteristics interact to predict recidivism?
This research samples three simultaneously existing groups of young offenders in California: 1) 16-25 year old offenders convicted in juvenile court and sentenced to the California Youth Authority, 2) 16-25 year old offenders convicted in criminal court and sentenced to the California Youth Authority, and 3) 16-25 year old offenders convicted in criminal court and sentenced to the California Department of Corrections. Multi-level modeling will be used to identify the elements of the incarceration environment and the pre-incarceration characteristics of the individual that significantly predict recidivism upon release from incarceration.
This research is also designed to consider a young offender's institutional movement and exposure to various environments during his commitment. This research intends to evaluate the impact of the justice systems' sentences on the post incarceration behavior of young offenders under their care.ca/ncf