Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2008, $19,999)
The proposed study will examine data for 45,487 male and female first-time Alabama youth offenders across a full range of charges to empirically identify offending trajectories that emerge over a seven year observation period. Research questions for the proposed study are: 1) Can discrete offending trajectories be identified for sub-groups of first-time youth offenders as they progress through the juvenile justice system? 2) Is trajectory group membership influenced by correlated risk and protective factors present at first offense? 3) Are specific offending trajectories and risk profiles predictive of long-term incarceration? Guided by the results of Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention's (OJJDP) Causes and Correlates studies among high-risk community samples of youth (Thornberry, Huizinga, & Loeber, 2004), the proposed study moves the discussion of likely offending trajectories and correlated psychosocial risk profiles beyond the realm of prevention, and into the realm of day-to-day juvenile justice practice. The study will conduct secondary data analysis using a de-identified longitudinal data set available courtesy of the Alabama Department of Youth Services and the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts.
The demographics of the study sample respond to calls within the literature to: 1) move beyond high risk samples in order to expand our understanding of protective factors, and; 2) investigate female-specific correlates for offending.