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Exploring the Impact of Institutional Placement on the Recidivism of Delinquent Youth

NCJ Number
Date Published
232 pages
This report explores the reasons that court-involved youth in New York City are sent to institutional placement or incarceration and assesses the impact of placement on future recidivism.

The main forces found behind the placement decisions were related primarily with factors that characterized youths’ relationships with the court itself. The factors often represent the degree to which youth have “learned their lesson” and demonstrate that they can comply with court orders. Despite the impact on the risk of incarceration, these characteristics and dynamics are not predictive of the risk of recidivism. Placement itself, at least in the short term, does not appear to affect the risk of recidivism. It neither decreases recidivism nor does it increase recidivism. The evidence shows that school engagement may condition this relationship. A longstanding interest exists on the effect of incarceration on the risk of future recidivism. However, the effect of juvenile incarceration on recidivism is less explored than that of adult offenders. This report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice explores the effects of juvenile incarceration on future recidivism using social and legal history data about adjudicated juvenile delinquents in New York City. Specifically, it compared the recidivism patterns of youths who received different types of dispositions, such as institutional placement, probation, and other community-based sentences while controlling for social background and legal history variables. The report assessed the utility of incarceration for youth with different personal, social, and legal profiles. A secondary research goal was to closely investigate the nature of family court processing. The intent was to determine not only the ways in which delinquent youth responded to placement, but also the reasons that youth ended up in placement. Tables, figures, appendix and references

Date Published: January 1, 2006