Juvenile Delinquency And Recidivism

Review of the Literature

The purpose of this section is to provide examples of the literature review undertaken for the proposed study. There is a wide variation in the approaches implemented to study juvenile offences in general and juvenile recidivism in particular. Understanding juvenile offences along with its causes and deterrents is the main goal of this section. The findings are categorized into the themes of juvenile delinquency, rehabilitation programs, incarceration processes, and recidivism.

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Juvenile Delinquency

Juvenile delinquency refers to the crimes and offences committed by the minors within a social set up. Since crime is a social phenomenon and exists in every society, the political authorities devise laws and implement them in order to protect the individuals from harms, perversion, and delinquent behavior. Children are the future builders of societies and better care, education and training of them is extremely necessary for the progress and uplift of the nation at large. In order to prevent the juveniles from getting involved in criminal activities and rehabilitate the offenders after committing crimes, a criminal justice system has been introduced, which looks to recover and recuperate the offenders in a systematic and an organized way. Theories have been articulated and researches have been conducted for discovering biological, sociological, and psychological causes behind perversion.

The conceptualization of juvenile delinquency implies several factors correlating with such behavior. One of such factors can be seen in the social control theory outlined in Hirschi (2002), which indicates that the lack self-control and attachment to society. The elements of the bond with the society include such relationships among its members as attachment, commitment and belief (Hirschi, 2002). Another factor correlating with crime is poverty, where in Bjerk (2004), cited in (Holzer, Schanzenbach, Duncan, & Ludwig, 2007), the author estimated that youth “youth growing up in the bottom quintile of the income distribution are about 1.3 times as likely to be involved in serious crime compared with youth from the second income quintile” (Holzer, et al., 2007). Connecting such finding with the social control theory mentioned, it can be stated that poverty can be seen as a factor in loosening the social bond in the society, which in turn might reduce control.

After the Second World War America had recognized the socially accepted age of maturity which implied that there was a longer transition to adulthood. Such developments partly occurred because they were shifts in the labor market and shifts in attitudes concerning the role of women at home and in society (Osgood, Foster, Flanagan, and Ruth, 2005). High school education was no longer considered to be sufficient for getting good wages and single salaries could not be supportive of the entire household. Consequently more youth had attended college and parents willingly provided financial support and funding for their children’s college education during times of their transition. In addition to being supported financially, youth also depended upon their family for emotional and social support for longer periods. Recent decades have witnessed considerable increase in the time taken by youth to move out of their family house in starting their own families. There is also a marked change in the median age of marriage for both men and women, while the percentage of people that choose to pursue higher education has also increased. It is in this context that the new term, emerging adulthood has been coined in referring to the time period between adolescents and adulthood. This time period comprises of several changes as youth shift from dependence for their needs on families towards gradually adopting adult responsibility. This period is understood to last till the age of about 25 years.

Recent years have also seen that the attitude and punishment in relation to crimes committed by youth have become considerably harsh. Most states in the US have adopted systems whereby juveniles can be tried in criminal courts and many states have fixed minimum ages acts, which provide that transfer from juvenile courts to adult courts cannot take place. Some states have fixed minimum age requirements whereby the modal age is understood as fourteen years (Griffin, 2008). There is also a marked pattern whereby courts have begun to require juvenile offenders to served prison terms in adult detention centers. Moreover, the punishments for both adults and juvenile offenders have also been considerably enhanced in the country. A number of linkages are now admitted amongst behavioral aspects of criminal activities and psychosocial maturity. Firstly, the creation of such linkages mostly coincides with the usual resistance to crime. Secondly the failure to comply with such requirements could encourage criminal behaviors in different ways. For instance, a person that does not recognize his or her responsibility towards the community is more likely to indulge in criminal behavior and vandalism. A person that does not understand how to practice cordial and intimate relationship will in all probability get involved in partner violence.

Many researchers have made efforts in the context of whether incarceration enhances or decreases criminal offending patterns are not very exhaustive so far. The main reason for this situation is the lack of adequate information and statistics concerning the integral selection issues in the context of researching groups of individuals that have been incarcerated by the criminal justice systems. Some researchers took positive initiatives in altering their research strategies from post-test only to pre-test as well as post-test in order to address the prevailing shortcomings and discrepancies. But complications related to threat of validity created hurdles in their efforts. Although the selection problems cannot be completely removed, it is possible to control in the context of time stable circumstances that could have been utilized by the justice systems while selecting their criteria for the same. Very little evidence has been found in the context of deterrence but there is strong evidence to the effect that incarceration produces a strong amplification in the short term on the pattern of frequency of usual crimes and of drug related crimes. There is also strong evidence that suggests there is a decrease in the involvement of juvenile delinquents in non drugs crimes.

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Recidivism is mostly used in referring to patterns of the offenses in a given period of time after juvenile delinquents are released from correctional facilities. The time that is taken between release and the offending patterns is not found to be consistent amongst different individuals but mostly understood as being dependent upon the constraints, and needs and other factors of the research issues. Researchers have identified a minimum of 14 definitions and the most common pertain to the re-sentencing, reconviction, re-arrest and any other manner of returning to prison with or without new sentencing. Arrest and conviction are the most commonly used measures because they can be easily be measured and do not require any cooperation on the part of different subjects.

Psychosocial maturity takes place amongst individuals and the social environment. The social aspects that typically influence the development of youth are in work areas, schools, peers, families and neighborhoods (Little, and Steinberg, 2006). The relevant literature has revealed that the usual transition towards adulthood can be quite stormy and complex only when the community prompts such patterns. Delinquency is quite common in the usual course of development amongst youth. It is evident that majority of delinquent youth are never sanctioned formally while continuing to remain and participate in community activities relating to education, family and other activities.

Most of these youth resist crime and successfully enter adulthood. However there are some juveniles that have to face disciplinary proceedings by the justice system. The influence of such formal processes on the usual development process has been recently researched by Osgood, Foster, Flanagan and Ruth (2005). Little and Steinberg (2005) have identified incarcerations as sanctions that have the greatest influence on juvenile delinquents’ capability to develop psychosocial maturity. They have suggested that patterns pertaining to withdrawal from community life, friends, high school and family as also additional responsibilities of being required to navigate through the new circumstances can often make them to face adjustment problems. In view of the fact that such transition is quite difficult for juveniles, studies in the context of vulnerable youth assume prime importance.

Research has suggested that the community and the justice systems are the most significant entities that can impact the transition needs of youth who are considered to be troubled with hardships in receiving education. Researchers have found that there is considerable lacking of collaboration that is responsible for the complexities associated with training and education of youth. On the basis of what is understood about transition, the shift from correctional facilities to school is a transition that can create frequent problems. It is felt that many of the programs that are structured for the transition of youth have been mostly implemented in isolation or not taken seriously in terms of efforts towards correctional education. The current literature is concerned about transition programs that are utilized in assisting adjudicated youth who are both disabled and non-disabled.

Research conducted has revealed that there are a number of services and strategies that are used by correctional facilities to facilitate the shift from correctional facilities to society. Efforts were made by researchers to examine the role played by people involved in the education process in devising methods of facilitating the change for juvenile offenders from correctional facilities to communities. Additionally, attempts have also been made to provide an appropriate means to ascertain as to what are the most efficient transition strategies and services in this regard. Researchers used an aftercare model whereby they designed programs and looked at the extent to which change initiatives for incarcerated youth existed in different parts of the country. Their research also focused upon the kinds of programs that had been devised by way of different patterns. Sharkey et al (2004) made additions to the current literature in this regard by introducing on outcome index which is believed to have high level of accuracy in terms of indicating the success of such efforts in the community.

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It is widely believed by educators in correctional facilities that if the education process is to succeed for youth, the shift from correctional facilities and community programs have to be all-inclusive so that they address the social and academic requirements of youth. Three areas of intervention have been found useful in focusing upon present instruction strategies. They relate to evaluation and individual assessment, social and independent living skills, training and basic academic skills instruction. Social scale instructions are also provided in a large number of programs that are included in the training opportunity and survival skills preparations, sex education, anger management and conflict management. Another significant area of importance relates to job placements, especially for students that have disabilities. These are the students that are considered as being in the process of changing from correctional facilities to the community. It has been observed during the transition process that a number of difficulties exist in the maintenance of contacts with external agencies. Moreover, getting support from the community and educating youth on how to make use of community services also impacts the process of transition. It is important to note that although cross agency communications did not attract many respondents, support services pertaining to substance abuse counseling and mental health counseling were provided to students that were disabled.

Family background and stability is often considered from the perspective of whether both parents live together with their siblings, which becomes a major factor in determining whether a child is adequately assimilated into conventional society. The impact of family in discouraging or encouraging recidivism originates from the concept of social control whereby it is believed that parents can significantly impact and are able to discourage negative swings amongst adolescents. They also form potential barriers to delinquent behaviors. Researchers argue that attachment with parents assists in inhibiting the initial formations of delinquent contacts which in itself tends to create interruption in the patterns of negative peer influences and delinquent behaviors.

Until recent times, the transition programs for adjudicated youth had not been very popular in the context of the correctional educational process. This is because of the large number of problems that surround such youth as they make preparations to return to the community and school. Considerable focus is now being made on the provision of all inclusive programs that provide education towards transitioning. Although many studies have focused upon the transition of youth from correctional facilities to the processes of rehabilitation, it appears upon close examination that they are more relevant to youth that are transitioning from correctional facilities to school and communities. Researchers have identified some crucial areas that are priorities in relation to efficient programs, strategies and services for detained youth that can be rehabilitated effectively:

  • Evaluation and assessment is considered as an essential component because they allow assessors to ascertain areas of interest, learning styles, weaknesses and strengths of the given group. Although evaluation and assessment is essential this program is considered important to obtain information about academic functioning and can also be used as an important means in the context of planning for such delinquent offenders.
  • Basic academic skills allow the viewing of academic skills such as math, writing, language skills and real-life situations. If multi-censory approaches are incorporated in the instruction curriculum, such skills can form as mechanisms that can be of immense benefit for the transition of juvenile delinquents.
  • In terms of carrier exploration and education, juvenile delinquents can explore realistic carrier opportunities by using technology that is considered by professionals as a field in which youth can grow with better understanding in the context of the best possible carrier choices for them.
  • The community and families support youth so that they are empowered with the required knowledge for gaining access to community services that are believed to be crucial in allowing youth to gainfully shift from correctional facilities to communities.
  • In regard to family involvement, professionals have asserted that there are several factors that can impact the transition process of juvenile delinquents from correctional facilities to the community. Such factors include the involvement of parents in the change process, providing outreach that includes support services and providing homebuilders.
  • Formal transition planning refers to the focus on individual transition plans that comprise of ongoing modification and evaluation systems. Considerable emphasis of plans is placed upon the involvement of juvenile delinquents, probation officers and other external agencies.
  • Through inter agency collaboration, association can be maintained with services and agencies, which is considered to be an essential component of programs relating to transition of juvenile delinquents.
  • In regard to job placement, researchers have felt that there is strong need of exposure to employment opportunities that include community-based work, apprenticeships and paid positions, which are also considered to be essential during the transitioning process of juvenile delinquents.
  • Living and social skills that include survival skills, interpersonal skills and anger and conflict management are believed to be very essential to the process of transition of such juvenile delinquents.
  • Ancillary and support services are essential because they cover crisis interventions and substance abuse interventions. Researchers are unanimous in believing that if juvenile delinquents are associated with one transition specialist or councilor they would be greatly benefited during the transition process.
  • Vocational skills require that juvenile delinquents who are being shifted from correctional facilities to the community need to be trained vocational transition skills to prepare them for jobs as also for job searches and interviews so that they develop the confidence to find and keep up with the job.

The Programs

The studies offer to increase the level of understanding into how these prison programs may be improved by determining and classifying some of the troublesome spheres. Originally, the authors of the papers suggest that the main accent on the prison programs should be placed on the matters of implementing these programs as it would help to foster the improved dynamics of the psychological traits, which feature the imprisonment in general, and adolescent imprisonment in particular.

  • Lacking effective rehabilitative programs. Gewirtz (2007) conducted a comprehensive study under the title Recidivism among Juvenile Offenders in New York City. She made comparative analyses among different boroughs of the city and concluded the very fact that re-arrest rate of the juveniles is very high is because of the inappropriate prevailing prison system. More than three quarters of the juveniles, Gewirtz submits, who were re-arrested within four years and a half, were re-arrested for a VFO in that time (Gewirtz, 2007).
  • Effective changes to rehabilitative programs. Berends, Vinkelvleugel, and Bijl (2008) conducted their research on the topic relevant to the causes of the recidivism of crimes among juvenile delinquents. The researchers strongly recommend electronic monitoring of the offenders at prison houses as well as at psychiatric centers for regulating the activities of the young offenders (Berends, Vinkelvleugel, & Bijl, 2008). It would be highly supportive in providing them the guideline for their rehabilitation and counseling. The counselor and psychiatrist can devise their strategies keeping in view the activities and longings of the young offenders (Tewksbury & Stengel, 2006). An evaluation has been conducted on pilot studies that use Electronic Monitoring at five Forensic Psychiatric Centers (FPC) and four Correctional Institutions for Juvenile Offenders (JJIs). During the pilot studies between September 2007 and May 2008, data were collected on the development of the use of Electronic Monitoring during times of leave, based on evaluation forms. The findings indicated that Electronic Monitoring proved very useful with the treatment of the patients (Byer & Kuhn, 2003).

Transitional Programming

The transitional programming model relates to collaboration amongst probation and parole agencies and juvenile justice agencies. The basic idea of transitional programming is to prepare juvenile delinquents that have been detained and are now to enter the community. Such procedures require the formation of bonds with community-based organizations whereby collaboration efforts are made to ensure the successful transformation and deliveries of supervision and services. Efficient aftercare services require faultless communication amongst all agencies such as community based associations and the juvenile justice systems (Gies, 2003). The exclusivity of transitional programming lies in providing high levels of supervision with all inclusive services during the time of incarceration and after release of juvenile delinquents into the communities. It is now widely accepted that law-abiding behavior must be encouraged amongst juvenile offenders after incarceration as they enter into communities. A number of researchers have held that whatever gains are made by juvenile delinquents during incarceration tend to quickly fade away after they are released.

Additionally, research has revealed that when youth are made to go through structured programs after incarceration there is higher chance of positive outcome. It is because of such circumstances that a number of aftercare programs have been introduced amongst juvenile populations. Some of these programs have resulted in positive outcomes such as the Intensive Community-Based Aftercare Program (IAP) models that have been devised by Altschuler and Armstrong (2004). Mostly parole and probation are used concurrently on a consistent basis that has been known to add values to the transition procedures. The basic objective is to take initiatives so that juveniles do not return back after release. Other significant issues relating to such programs are the provision of supervision initiatives while juvenile delinquents reentered into communities. Although coordination amongst different agencies such as community service providers and juvenile justice systems are crucial elements, it is also important to meet the requirements of youth on a consistent basis by making use of community services.

The focus must be placed on the development of collaborative efforts so that they develop good working habits in obtaining good jobs and acquiring the required guidance to discourage criminal involvements. The IAP model is distinct from three perspectives. Firstly, it confirm to the conditions of all jurisdictions so that recidivism is reduced. Secondly, it provides for challenges to professional communities to justify the significance of accountability. Thirdly, the commitments of community service organizations and other agencies related to the juvenile justice systems can significantly contribute to the efficiency of the model. Thus, professional communities face strong challenges to develop comprehensive plans that attach importance to ownership. In knowing that people are responsible for instituting requisite tasks and how such tasks are be executed and completed, allows the stability of the model to continue and incorporation of the structure in addition to ensuring accountability on the basis of commitments to community service.

The period of incarceration is the best time for juvenile delinquents to be given comprehensive treatments that aim at transforming them from correctional facilities to the community. Altschuler and Armstrong (2004) have held that reference to that question is best suited during times of incarceration of juvenile delinquents that are not ready to transition back to the community because of the inability of programs. This in turn leads to higher rates of recidivism amongst those that are out on parole. Consequently, while being incarcerated, authorities can commence the transition process for youth such as teaching specific skills so that they do not regress because of the presence of insufficient monitoring after they leave the correctional facility.

Other aspects of the model comprise of counseling juvenile delinquents, involvement of parents and exhaustive vocational assessments that are carried out during placements. On the whole, such programs are mostly proved to be quite effective because there is a marked improvement in communication and collaboration amongst aftercare agencies and juvenile justice systems while community services are also significantly improved. Additionally, such programs have allowed youth to relate with the available community services during the transition process. Most of the agencies engaged in such efforts have identified mechanisms that are crucial to improve transition, most of which involve the incorporation of stability and structure, consistent case management, effective planning and visiting youth after they have returned back to the communities.

The transition from detention centers to the community is quite a difficult experience for many juvenile delinquents that are released from incarceration. However, youth can better adapt to the communities if youth programs are made available to them so that they can transition during the period of incarceration in collaboration with educational agencies that may be located outside the correctional facilities. Most of the studies in this regard focus upon the involvement of youth so that they are successful after leaving correctional facilities. A link is required to exist amongst the community, collection facilities and public schools. When there is collaboration in working towards common goals in helping youth to enter society, it helps a great deal in increasing the chances of youth being transformed into responsible and productive citizens. Researchers have observed that such seamless transformation is absolutely crucial and requires the concerned agencies to work together in assisting youth to enroll back in school and thus to connect with community-based services and also with ongoing relationships and probation officers for extended time periods. Most of the research efforts have focused upon the transitional process that relates to youth who are sentenced for long periods. Information can be collected from them and utilized in framing the development process that further facilitates the transformation of youth from correctional facilities to the community.

In gaining recognition to such services and strategies for transitioning youth from detention centers to communities, research has clearly indicated that the community and schools are the two most significant entities that can address the transformation needs of juvenile delinquents. Given that a section of the youth in society can create severe complications for both educators and correctional facilities, collaboration by way of efficient programs and services, implementing training pertaining to social skills after detention is very important. At least in part, community support, individual assessments and consistent interagency collaborations are very important measures to assist the rehabilitation process of juvenile delinquents. As a consequence, most of the results in this regard are focused upon vocational, social, and educational areas. These three areas place great emphasis on educational programs amongst youth in making available to them the required knowledge base to get access to crucial services after they get released. However, implementation of follow up procedures, provision of vocational assessments and placements, job-training and assistance in preparing for work are essential elements to be considered by all concerned agencies.

It is required to reintegrate juvenile delinquents into the community once they leave correctional facilities. This further allows addressing a number of issues in relation to rehabilitating youth from detention centers to communities. Given that the integration process of juvenile offenders into communities is a massive task, by introducing the required services through focused community-based rehabilitation programs, such youth can be prepared to play positive roles in the community. It is very important for the rehabilitation process that students are treated with responsibility. Society must understand that juvenile delinquents will not be detained endlessly and constructive solutions have to be found for them so that they re-enter society as responsible citizens.

Impact of Incarceration on Juveniles

Significant research has been done in the context of how incarceration affects juvenile delinquents. There is a group of literature concerning studies on recidivism that primarily focuses upon the incarceration experience of juvenile delinquents. The studies have used empirical methods with non-equal groups and collected authentic data to ascertain the offending patterns of youth. Such research efforts have made comparison of different groups of juvenile delinquents that had been sent to conventional juvenile detention and correction centers with those that were given community sanctions.

Researchers also investigated the rate of recidivism in terms of parole violations and convictions that resulted in institutionalization of juvenile delinquents that left experimental programs in traditional correctional facilities. They found that more than 80 per cent of youth that were released from a single detention centre recidivated within five years of their release. Similarly, researchers also found that the average recidivism amongst boys during the three years of follow up period was almost 55 per cent. The studies have indicated that incarceration does not necessarily prevent youth from committing crimes again after their release from detention centers. All the information is not clear about individual offending patterns but the research outcomes are strongly indicative of the fact that African-American boys that have received minimal education and those that are from poor economic background are more likely to reveal patterns of recidivism.

Labeling Theory

There is an intense debate about the effect of incarceration upon the future offending patterns of juvenile delinquents released from detention. According to the labeling theory, sanctions have the tendency to label offenders, which in turn leads to enhanced criminal activities subsequently. Such enhancement of criminal behaviors is referred to as deviance amplification. Rather than reduce criminal activities, sanctions often lead to negative reaction from other people that encourages offenders to further construct a deviant image of self thus making them to continue with criminal behavior. Sanctioning in the context of incarceration results in a strong reaction from communities that further facilitates the juvenile delinquent to accept the social status of being deviant. Conversely, some of the deterrence scholars are of the belief that incarceration does deter offenders from adopting the same levels of crime once they are released. Deterrence occurs even when people that have undergone sanctions for given crimes are dissuaded from future criminal patterns. These theorists believe that sanctions deter individuals from future criminal behavior because of the imposition of added costs as compared to benefits in the case of offenders that demonstrate rational behaviors.

Young offenders are greatly impacted in being labeled and would probably not be influenced by prior contact with the system. Farrington, and West (2003) have concluded that labeling could fade away in some years irrespective of whether further convictions are made or not. The deterring influence of incarceration differs amongst older and younger offenders. For instance young offenders may develop attitudes whereby they feel they will be losers to a lesser extent if they commit crimes and thus will not be much impacted by sanctions. Further research has suggested that incarceration does not have any direct impact upon future criminal behaviors but indirectly impacts criminal behavior by effecting future employment opportunities. Thus, in the context of these theories, the recently enhanced punishments in terms of increased imprisonment for youth may result in decreased or increased criminal behaviors. It may also result in no impact on criminal behaviors. However, in view of the fact that there are over 100,000 juveniles incarcerated in the US, a large number of lives can be positively or negatively influenced by policies relating to incarceration.

Incarceration Processes

The offender and the offence committed are determinant factors in the selection of the rehabilitative program for the offender. Understanding the offender and the offence will dictate the proper rehabilitative program. The majority of the research concentrated on juvenile crime and court procedures, which have mainly focused on the flows of the processes and on the psychology of minor criminals. It is stated that at least two-thirds of the juveniles had been re-arrested within four years after their first arrest (Colman, Kim, Mitchell-Herzfeld, & Shady, 2009). The only difference in these rates is the periods between the first and the second arrest. Moreover, it is stated that if the arrest was caused by drug issues, the likelihood of re-arrest increased up to 70% (Ashkar & Kenny, 2008).

Austin, Johnson, and Gregoriou (2000) argued that keeping the juvenile offenders in adult prison housing has increased the percentage of recidivism among the juvenile prisoners. Data showed that keeping young males and females with adults encourage young offenders in becoming habitual criminals, where most of the youth who are kept with senior criminals commit offences after being released from the prisons. In the aspect of the imprisonment experience, data is mainly collected on a volunteer basis, where imprisoned inmates are interviewed on the matter of imprisonment, their impressions, and views about imprisoning, including what was lacking and what could be improved (Kupchik, 2006).

Research on Deterrence

Most research efforts on deterrence have focused upon the impact of deterrence and on how sanctions against a few offenders considerably impact other potential juvenile delinquents. Most of the limited studies that have examined particular deterrence have not included the specific behaviors as dependent variables. Rather, a few research studies have looked only at specific instances and ignored actual behaviors as dependent variables (Puzzanchera, 2003). Further, the available research delves into criminal patterns as outcomes and mostly focuses upon the impact of other forms of sanctions instead of incarceration such as court appearances and arrest.

There are some complexities with specific deterrence approaches upon the impact of incarceration. Mostly such studies have relied upon insignificant research designs and used official statistics to conclude about deviant behaviors. The research designs in this regard are of two kinds; the post-test only design that does not consider equivalent groups and the untreated control group design that is greatly focused upon pre-test and post-test sampling. Many studies that have used such designs have measured offending patterns with self reported data or with official records. However many studies relating to specific deterrence have combined post-test only designs with official recidivism studies that mostly prove to be problematic in researching the issues in hand. They do not mostly give information about criminal offending patterns prior to incarceration and thus are not informative about how offending patterns change with time.

It is mostly a problem to make use of official data pertaining to criminal behavior. Studies that have relied upon official data have focused upon tremendously dichotomous results in ignoring decline in offending rate. Such declining patterns have been referred to as restrictive deterrence that implies curtailing of specific criminal activities under the belief that repetitive behaviors will lead to more punishments. Recidivism rates are not meant to give an idea of restrictive deterrence and amplification, but they can rather indicate only imperfect solutions in terms of effective desistence, which in itself is considered as unrealistic expectation for majority of the offenders. Further, the complexity associated with measurement in the context of using crime statistics to ascertain actual offending patterns are well recognized (Pope et al, 2003).

The present empirical research concerning the amplification of deterrence is on the whole not conclusive. Post-test approaches have only used official data in depicting an unclear picture concerning incarceration in the context of juveniles. Most of the studies have indicated that first time offenders are impacted negatively because of institutionalization that have revealed high rates of failure in comparison to other practices such as community programs and probation. However, although research on recidivism is useful amongst different sanctions but they cannot ascertain if an individual’s criminal tendencies change subsequent to incarceration and if they are adversely impacted by differential attritions and selection bias. But they are still suggestive of the fact that incarceration does not result in deterring criminal behavior. In this regard Bales and Mears (2008) have concluded through their meta-analysis that psychological and criminal based actions are not well suited in the context of deterrence. Moreover they also concluded that in some cases corrective sanctions are directly related with increasing recidivism.

The Deprivation of Development Theory

As per the Deprivation of Development Theory maturity is a strong factor in mediating amongst deprivation and importation impacts upon potential behaviors. As per the theory a person becomes a productive member in the community as he or she transitions towards adulthood and ceases to adopt criminal behaviors. According to Ezell (2007), most young people and even incarcerated offenders tend to refrain from crime although the desistence can be delayed in the case of people who experience significant interference in development by way of deprivation and importation factors. Several years of investigation into the reasons for overcrowding in prisons has led to one concrete result whereby it is indicated that crowding does not influence adult inmates’ behaviors. At the same time there is considerable evidence to the effect that moderations occur by way of age differences in terms of relationship between violence and crowding (Webb and Maddox, 2006). It was found by Franklin et al (2006) through their meta-analysis that prison crowding does not definitely lead to violence irrespective of how the crowding is characterized. At the same time the effects are significant for young offenders in the age group of 18 to 25 years whereby crowding often results in higher rates of nonviolent and violent offending patterns.

Prison stability amongst inmates is strongly related to behavior of inmates because they need opportunities to get acclimatized to the prevailing environment, develop routines and to become familiar with life as it prevails in prisons. There is a high level of institutional turnover in this regard whereby incarcerated youth can be handled and molded in order to reduce their stability and enhance conduct issues of inmates.

A number of studies have shown variation amongst young and old inmates in both juvenile facilities and in prison (Kuanliang et al, 2008), but still there are very few studies that effectively compare such delinquent groups in different circumstances. An additional contribution by these authors relates to the definition of young offenders by social construction and developmental expectation instead of by legal standards. Such strategies expand the literature in conforming to the impact of different events as being quite serious such as in the case of incarceration. Judgment is also widened in the context of what is implied in being young beyond the legal conceptions, as envisioned by youth.

As per the Deprivation of Development Theory, if the characteristics of incarceration experiences create hurdles in development, the chances of reoccurrence will increase. The aging process is known to occur in carceral circumstances and youth are known to abide by reasonably imposed restrictions. In essence; treatments, punishments, monitoring and restricting behavior are all considered to be positive qualities of parenting. The most serious offenders are known to depict positive outcomes subsequent to incarceration in juvenile correction facilities. The aging process can be obstructed because of confinement since young people are not considered to be resilient with all aspects of deprivation. Incarceration experience is not the same for all individuals and researchers have found that increased deprivation mostly occurs in adult prisons. It has also been found that correctional experience matters a great deal in terms of empirical contribution.

It is known that commitment to adult prisons enhances the chances of reoccurrence of crimes irrespective of whether it is through court determination or through adulthood. There is strong evidence that suggests incarceration restricts maturing out of criminal activities. At the same time there is considerable evidence to the effect that prisons do restrain maturing out of crimes.

Predictors of Offending Patterns

A number of pre‐incarceration characteristics have been shown to predict future patterns of serious offending. Studies on the impact of transfer to adult courts have generally concluded the act of being transferred impacts the likelihood of young offenders’ recidivism. As an importation variable, one should consider how criminal court processing (as compared to juvenile court processing) shapes an offender’s understanding of himself and or the justice system. The interaction between sentencing court and later correctional experience has not been explored. Most transfer studies do not account for differences in any experience with incarceration for transferred versus retained youth. What limited information is available suggests that the likelihood of recidivism increases if any type of incarceration is imposed or if an adult sanction is forced over a juvenile one.

Type of commitment offense has been shown to be related to differential rates of recidivism. Commitment offense may influence the incarceration experience and therefore subsequent offending. For example, violent offenders may be incarcerated with other violent offenders which may increase their propensity to continue offending upon release.

Studies have shown that more extensive criminal histories are related to increased probability of future offending. In lieu of criminal histories, other studies have shown that early exposure to the justice system significantly predicts the likelihood of offending post‐release.

Racial and ethnic differences have also been identified with regard to inmate recidivism. Lattimore et al (2004) find that in adult prisons, black inmates have higher rates of violent behavior, a finding that the authors attribute to prior street culture, and therefore taken as an indicator of support for importation theory.

In reference to release cohorts of juveniles in California, previous research has shown that the region of the state influences the likelihood of recommitment. Studies show that commitment in Southern California leads to lower rates of recidivism than the rest of the state. African Americans have been found to have higher rates of recidivism than other racial and ethnic groups.

Until recent times, the transition programs for adjudicated youth had not been very popular in the context of the correctional educational process. This is because of the large number of problems that surround such youth as they make preparations to return to the community and school. Considerable focus is now being made on the provision of all inclusive programs that provide education towards transitioning. Although many studies have focused upon the transition of youth from correctional facilities to the processes of rehabilitation, it appears upon close examination that they are more relevant to youth that are transitioning from correctional facilities to school and communities.

The Role of Deprivation

The Role of deprivation refers to expectations of decline of normal development as the extent of deprivation as felt in the environment is enhanced. Haney (2003) has effectively described the impact of different kinds of environment upon youth that have to undergo solitary confinement:

“Regardless of what they have done, they are in an uncertain, unformed state of social identity…Not only are you putting them in a situation where they have nothing to rely on but their own, underdeveloped internal mechanisms, but you are making it impossible for them to develop a healthy functioning adult social identity. You’re basically taking someone who’s in the process of finding out who they are and twisting their psyche in a way that will ake it very, very difficult for them to ever recover” (Haney, 2003, p.39).

Haney’s theory does not consider that incarceration definitely results in large scale deprivation. Everybody experiences deprivation of some kind and youth are more prone to face restrictions as compared to adults in terms of lack of money, tobacco, alcohol, legal controls on sex and curfews. Thus it is the extent of deprivation that is more relevant. According to Osgood et al (2005), if resources, direction and support are provided amongst malleable youth there is a strong ground in believing that productivity and normal development during adulthood will take place. The theory holds that an incarceration environment can lead to distinct kinds of deprivation in having varied impacts while young people develop into adulthood. For example, a young person who is transitioning is made to undergo firefighting training rather than undergo a term in a detention center will develop different and positive characteristics. It is thus alright to assume that incarceration results in deprivation and that juvenile facilities in being established for rehabilitation are more prone to develop maturation. The main factor that determines how constructive any institution is will depend upon the quality of the environment. Thus the available literature on deprivation can be utilized in understanding the effect of incarceration upon recidivism and development of youth.


In order to understand recidivism many theories and views have been proposed for examining the reasons for its high rates. The high rates of juvenile recidivism are statistically supported through research (Hagell, 2002; LEWIS, et al., 1994), but a corresponding level of research into improving prison programs is lacking (Kupchik, 2006). The present area of research into the phenomena of recidivism outline that the most useful analyses include a wide range of events, associated with the act of reoffending. In that regard, regardless of subsequent event, e.g. re-incarceration, referral to court, or re-arrest, the basis of analyzing recidivism is the act of offence itself.

Common elements contributing to recidivism are the seriousness of the offence and the severity of the punishment (Siegel & Welsh, 2008). The characteristics of the offenders also played a role, where most of the juvenile recidivism is related to immoral crimes including rape, sodomy, exhibitionism, oral sex, and others. It is fact beyond doubt that sexual pleasures particularly fascinate the young members of society, and they often commit sexual offences against which prison house can hardly create any barrier. Since their stay at prisons has removed their fear regarding loss of status or comforts, they feel no hesitation in committing the same crimes which has caused their humiliation in the past. A portion of recidivists includes a group of offenders whose current criminal behavior was the same type as that committed at least once in the past. These offenders are often referred to as habitual offenders, though state statues normally apply this term to persons who are frequently arrested for any criminal behavior (Austin, et al., 2000).

The contribution of risk substance in juvenile recidivism was outlined in Stoolmiller and Blechman (2005), where antisocial provocations such as alcohol and drugs were determinant to the repeating offences and antisocial behavior (Stoolmiller & Blechman, 2005). The exposure to such antisocial provocations, on the other hand are influenced by many family characteristics such as parents’ neglect and their role in controlling the activities of the adolescents (Stoolmiller & Blechman, 2005).

Ashkar and Kenny (2008) stated the usage of phenomenology study outlined factors irrelevant to the punishment or the initial offence such as the promotion of antisocial behavior, the negative feelings, and the culture in prison and substance use. Neither of the latter can be connected to the length of the incarceration nor to the initial offence, with the possible exception of sexual offenders. The proposition of remedy to eliminate those factors was proposed in providing offence-specific treatment, psychological treatment, counseling, education, vocational training, and social skills training (Ashkar & Kenny, 2008). Similar to Kupchik (2006), most of the studies address relevant questions, such as;

  1. Whether they have re-offended; If yes, the reasons for recidivism.
  2. How their prison experience contributed to or detracted from the recidivism?
  3. What are the problem areas in prison programs, which are making them ineffective?
  4. How these programs could be improved?

A major problem in carrying out research in the context of recidivism is the large number of difficulties faced in the creation of required control groups for the analysis. They exist because the presence of control groups is suggestive of the fact that there are groups that are not ready and possibly do not get the best care from government authorities. The prevailing circumstances have forced research studies to make use of other variables such as tools of analysis of data, which makes it difficult to differentiate variables and to reduce varying explanations for the different outcomes. This results in research outcomes that primarily relate to indicators as against the tests that analyze testable outcomes. A study conducted by Bullis, Yovanoff and Havel (2004) identified indicators in the context of recidivism based upon individual characteristics.

The independent variables that were used in the research included psychosocial, psycho educational and demographic variables that were probable indicators of the dependent variable that was assumed to be recidivism. Research identified parole violation, age at which commitments were made and the succorance that prove to be indications of recidivism. Succorance is understood as the capability of individuals to expect compassion and assurance from others and reveals a lesser extent of soft relations with recidivism as compared to parole violation. The violation is known to be a good indicator of recidivism because it suggests derision of legal systems in addition to indicating the tendency of juvenile delinquents to continue with violations of law.

However, a major limitation of this research included the fact that most of the individuals that were analyzed were white people, which impliy that research in all probability did not correctly make representation of all jurisdictions in the nation. The study also acknowledged that some of the psychosocial data was not fully reliable because it was the outcome of self-reporting. Moreover, juvenile delinquents in keeping with the criminal counterparts cannot be relied upon as being authentic reporters.

Another recent research attempts to examine the association of family contacts in the context of recidivism pertaining to juvenile delinquents. The study did not differentiate amongst positive and negative family contacts but identified family contacts amongst juvenile and juvenile authorities in the context of a valuation of individual offenders (Rutherford, Nelson and Wolford, 2005). Here again recidivism was considered as a dependent variable and the independent variables were family contacts and other diverse demographic variables. Family contacts were defined in terms of the contacts who had initiated the contacts. Negative correlation in the context of recidivism was a result of variables that comprised of home counseling, home visits carried out by social workers and campus visits made by families. The demographic variables were standard and the outcomes were in keeping with other research studies. Such variables comprised of positive coalition in the context of recidivism for African American juvenile delinquents and those juveniles that were young while being released. The research study also made specific measurement of poor relation on the basis of length of stay in correctional facilities.

Other studies have reviewed the rate of recidivism amongst female and male juvenile delinquents in some cities in California. The research included juvenile delinquents that were first-time offenders and had been adjudicated only once. In this regard, recidivism is understood as the second education subsequent to release from correctional facilities after the first offence. This research carried out by Quinn, Rutherford and Osher (2004) made use of 56 indicators in 12 diverse categories and was unique by way of its demographic inclusions because the juvenile delinquents included in this research were primarily white Americans and Mexican-Americans. Such inclusions were made in order to identify risks in the context of recidivism. Many of such indicators are appraisals made by parole officers. This test which is now understood as the Santa Barbara Assets and Risks Assessment (SBARA) is considered to be quite accurate in indicating recidivism. This study purported to help recognize the different causes of recidivism, but mainly offered good resources in terms of warning signs in regard to specific individual juvenile delinquents and their future behavioral patterns of criminal activities.

MacKenzie and Goodstein (2003) had made early studies about recidivism amongst the same group by using younger parameters in the context of SBARA that focused upon the local natures of evaluation. The SBARA could have perhaps resolved some of the problems but it was utilized through the same demographic patterns thus creating a situation where the questions remain unanswered in the context of whether the assessments were valid for demographics that were not represented in earlier studies. Most of such studies have predicted failures and the purpose of this projection has been to identify various indicators of recidivism. Most of such indicators allow for evaluation with the assistance of using specific individuals for added treatments. But such indicators have not identified the treatment that is most efficient for juvenile delinquents that are most likely to engage in offending behavior again.

It is known that in the context of juvenile recidivism the treatment is often interrupted because of added patterns of offences in adulthood. When there is a shift from juvenile to adulthood there is considerable removal of interest by the systems in terms of rehabilitation. This is because penal systems for adults are shifting towards better reintegration plans in many jurisdictions but mostly rehabilitation programs are no more considered important objectives of the adult penal system.

Recidivism is mostly used in referring to patterns of the offenses in a given period of time after juvenile delinquents are released from correctional facilities. The time that is taken between release and the offending patterns is not found to be consistent amongst different individuals but mostly understood as being dependent upon the constraints, and needs and other factors of the research issues. Tannenhaus (2004) has identified a minimum of 14 definitions and the most common pertain to the re-sentencing, reconviction, re-arrest and any other manner of returning to prison with or without new sentencing. Arrest and conviction are the most commonly used measures because they can be easily be measured and do not require any cooperation on the part of different subjects. But many research studies have used different measurements and combinations but whatever the measurement, it is known that recidivism does not happen by chance and can be predicted in advance by using specific variables such as gender, age at the time of release from prison, race, criminal history, type of offence and the impact of peers (Zimring, 2003).

Many juvenile justice policy makers make use of recidivism for evaluation of rehabilitation programs because it is crucial to ascertain how the specific social democratic conditions affect recidivism, which are then used as a measurement of how effective intervention modalities will be in different situations. Literature that pertains to the significance of such characteristics in predicting recidivism relates to re-arrest, reconviction or re-adjudication and re-sentencing. Re-arrest implies subsequent arrests after juvenile delinquents are ordered to be released from custody in correctional facilities, mostly within a given period of time. This definition does not include the fact that the arrested person could be released later on account of insufficient evidence thus implying that the act of being arrested again indicates recidivism even though the arrestee may not have been involved in any delinquent behaviors.

Reconviction or re-adjudication is the confirmation to official judicial proceedings that the juvenile delinquent, is involved in subsequent offences after being released and is bound to get sentenced. Although the adjudication procedures relating to juvenile delinquents are carried out in juvenile courts, reconviction is usually applicable in the case of adult offenders or juvenile delinquents that have been held guilty in adult courts. Reconviction and re-adjudication are considered to be strong indicators of recidivism because they involve new crimes. Re-sentencing as a measure of recidivism becomes quite thin while being compared with reconviction and re-adjudication because all juveniles that are convicted of subsequent offences are not sentenced in view of being partly dependent upon the reports of probation officers. The main basis of such arguments rests on the notion that even if a person is sentenced or not, the reality remains that the juvenile delinquent has committed a crime after being released. The only means to ascertain that the juvenile delinquent is guilty again is through conviction or adjudication. Re-adjudication is thus indicative of the absence or presence of recidivism in the context of the given intervention modalities.

Indicators of Recidivism

A large number of factors are related with the pattern of offenses amongst juvenile delinquents. These patterns can be better understood from the perspective of risk and needs indications, demographic characteristics and prior history dynamics. The varied factors in this context can be better understood by dealing with them under three specific domains:

  • Race and sex
  • Age
  • Duration of stay

The impact of race on recidivism is different across varied, stages of the justice system, which also includes the decisions in handing custodian adjudications to juvenile offenders. These decisions are considerably dependent upon time, macro social factors such as the racial composition in communities, the characterization of the court system in terms of the extent of bureaucratization and the existence of racial stereotyping. Researchers have held that stereotypes are important factors amongst common conceptions that blacks are more prone to get involved in crimes and to recidivate as compared to whites. Similar views have been echoed by Sickmund (2004) in terms of blacks and racial minorities being viewed as more criminally inclined and thus deserving more serious punishments. Although all studies have not held similar views there appears to be general opinion amongst researchers that there is a strong relationship amongst offending patterns and race.

Langan & Levin (2003) conducted research on patterns of recidivism during a three year period amongst 272,112, former detainees in 15 states and concluded that blacks were more prone to recidivism than whites irrespective of the measures used for such calculations. Hispanics were found to be having the lowest rate of recidivism as compared to other races. In the context of relationship amongst gender and race in regard to the prevalence rate of juvenile custody it was found that African-Americans were prone to recidivate five times higher as compared to whites. This pattern is found to exist not only in the context of recidivism but also in terms of the first acts of offence by juvenile delinquents (Harms, 2003).

Studies in the context of indicators of racial arrests variables revealed that though the numbers of blacks arrested are more than whites, this pattern does not explain the higher susceptibility of blacks to get arrested, primarily because they are mostly involved in severe offences and crimes that require police action. Researchers suggest that the belief pertaining to some racial groups fuelling criminal attitudes on account of, unfair means adopted by the justice systems are considered to be important prerequisites in the decisions of such people to offend repeatedly (Stuart and Brice-Baker, 2004). For instance, blacks may adopt criminal behavior and get involved in more crimes in view of perceptions that the criminal law and its execution is racist and unfair.

Such beliefs are used in rationalizing and justifying criminal and delinquent behaviors by holding that the affected people cannot be considered as offenders when they commit crimes but rather they should be considered as victims of unjust systems (Wilbanks, 2004). Nevertheless such patterns of race re-offending or offending are sometimes disapproved by researchers. For instance, Katsiyannis, et al (2004) held that psychosocial issues related with recidivism were not much different from recidivists and non-recidivists in the context of race. The present research findings in the context of sex hold that not only our men were involved but they are also excessively represented in the rate of recidivism from all perspectives. It was found that for all races the prevalence rate of recidivism amongst males was much higher. It was also estimated that females comprised only 22 per cent of the total arrests and 17 per cent of incarcerations in America.

Recent statistics pertaining to juvenile courts and patterns of recidivism revealed that there is considerable prevalence of delinquency amongst youth that are 15 years of age or younger (Katsiyannis et. al, 2004). Although the number of instances that involve delinquents aged 17 years are comparatively less than those that involve youth aged 16 years; such a pattern is considered to exist in some states because 17 year old youth are treated as adults under law and thus are dealt with by adult courts instead of juvenile jurisdictions. However even if the age of majority is considered, the younger age group during the first instance of adjudications represent greater patterns of offending and repeating the offence. This aspect is further highlighted by Kuanliang et al (2008), who predicted that a major reason for recidivism amongst juvenile sex offenders is the fact that youth who got involved in offences at younger ages faced greater risks of re-offending. On the other hand the opposite relationship is depicted amongst the age at which juvenile offenders are released and the chances of recidivism are increased. The chances of re-offending are higher if the juvenile delinquent is younger at the time of release (Puzzanchera, 2003). Langan & Levin (2003) concluded that although the rate of recidivism is about 45 per cent for delinquents that are released after the age of 45, for offenders of 18 years and under, the same is a staggering 80 per cent after they are released.

According to Stuart, Bryan and Janet Brice-Baker (2004), a more important determinant that impacts the chances of return to correctional systems is the time period spent in such correctional facilities. There is increasing evidence to suggest that the more severe the punishment, as encapsulated in long prison terms, it considerably reduces the incidence of recidivism amongst juvenile delinquents. It is thus true that if the case is made out of severe punishment that may be given to juvenile delinquents, higher rates of recidivism would be witnessed amongst offenders that are treated in community-based rehabilitation initiatives that are understood as being corrective. But given that strong punishments that characterize regular secure custodies may also result in violence and anger which could further enhance recidivism (Bullis, Yovanoff and Havel, 2004). Studies conducted by Ezell (2007) in Florida did not find any consistent pattern of relationships amongst recidivism and the duration of confinement. But he also found that although this pattern was important in considering acts by immediate levels in the context of high risk and non-residential programs during multivariate analysis, its impacts were found to be strong only for youth that were released from high-risk detention centers.

In similar studies carried out in the context of sex offenders and recidivism by Langan et al. (2003), they found that re-offending and re-arrest patterns amongst juveniles were high amongst those that served short prison terms as against those that served longer detention. However, after providing for the types of offences for which offenders would be arrested, Langan et al (2003) concluded that relationships amongst the rate of arrest and period of detention in prison were positively related. They also held that general conclusions about associations amongst the time period served and the level of recidivism is not tenable.

The kind of offenses for which the juvenile delinquent was released from imprisonment has been proved by research in being a significant factor that impacts whether the person will be involved in the delinquent and criminal behavior after being released. Juveniles that are involved in violent crimes demonstrate more frequent patterns of recidivism as compared to those that are involved in minor offences. Farrington and West (2003) made a comparative analysis during a period of eight years involving child molesters and adolescent rapists and found that adolescents rapists were more likely to re-offend after release from detention centers, as compared to re-offending patterns by juveniles that were not involved in sex related offences. However some recent studies have revealed a marked difference in diametrically disputing the pattern of such offence type recidivism nexus and adopted the strategy in arguing differently. As to research carried out by Langan & Levin (2003), people that are released from custody because of offences relating to fraud, auto theft, larceny, burglary, arson and other kinds of theft were found to have the highest incidence of recidivism in comparison to people that were released for drug and violent offences and public transgressions. They also concluded that violent crimes such as rape, a kidnapping, of robbery and homicide at the lowest recidivism rates as compared to other crimes.

In cases where offenders had assumed criminal and delinquent behaviors repeatedly that also mounted to the existence of previous offences, recidivism appear to be higher (Franklin, 2006). It is widely held that previous criminal history can be used in predicting recidivism in the context of decisions made by juvenile delinquents to involve in more offences after being released from custody. It is also known that previous involvement in crimes leads to the reduction of traditional social bonds and relationships that could have assisted in deterring criminal behaviors. Researchers have held that criminal behavior and the resulting sanctions can make an impact on people to be greatly exposed to developing affinity with other people that repeatedly commit crimes and such a pattern of reinforcement results in enhanced participation in criminal behaviors. Researchers have argued that irrespective of whether previous offences impact re-offending behaviors, it primarily depends upon the incidence and seriousness of prior offences, mostly considered to be five or more times.

Family background and stability is often considered from the perspective of whether both parents live together with their siblings, which becomes a major factor in determining whether a child is adequately assimilated into conventional society. The impact of family in discouraging or encouraging recidivism originates from the concept of social control whereby it is believed that parents can significantly impact and are able to discourage negative swings amongst adolescents. They also form potential barriers to delinquent behaviors. Researchers argue that attachment with parents assists in inhibiting the initial formations of delinquent contacts which in itself tends to create interruption in the patterns of negative peer influences and delinquent behaviors.

Recent studies have revealed that parenthood and marriage are strong indicators of social bond that help in confirming to social legal and social concepts. Families can prove to be a strong supportive factor for constructing social capital that could be necessary although it is not considered as sufficient ground for people to remain law-abiding. Even after substantial attempts at interventive treatments, the usual problem-solving strategies and interactions amongst family members have been revealed as the major factors in subsequent behavior relating to recidivism. Researchers conducted a meta-analysis whereby functional family therapies were found to be a major reason for reducing recidivism that was further substantiated by later studies on family penalties relating to criminal behavior and delinquency. Researchers have also concluded that strong family relationships are more likely to lessen recidivism amongst youth that are on parole and other follow up intervention strategies.

The relation between delinquent behavior and drug use has created a lot of apprehensions during the last few decades. There is no doubt amongst the public that the relation between crime and drugs is quite pertinent whereby drug use is understood as directly leading to criminal behavior But critics have researched and found that the relationship is more severe and complex than what has been recognized so far. Studies relating to violence involving drugs and alcohol revealed that there is no strong evidence in suggesting that drug use is directly related with violence but there is considerable evidence in suggesting that alcohol use is strongly related with violence of every kind. Other research efforts have also attempted to ascertain the relationship amongst drugs and substance abuse and the incidence of recidivism. However, research studies have also focused in establishing that the relationship exists amongst heavy substance abuse and criminal activities. This aspect does not confirm that drugs are significant predictors of recidivism because there is also the possibility of anti-podal relationships. Despite such findings, there have been other research studies that have concluded the existence of positive association amongst drug/substance/alcohol abuse and re-offending patterns. They have thus contradicted such views in concluding that drug/substance/alcohol abuse enhances the chances of recidivism amongst young offenders.

A large number of researchers have been constantly attaching a great deal of significance to the linkage between peer influence and the pattern of delinquent behavior whereby peer pressure forms meaningful explanation in regard to not only the first instance of delinquency but also the repeat pattern that characterizes recidivism amongst juvenile delinquents. It is very true that delinquent behavior and delinquency appear to have been positively associated with each other. Associations with delinquent peers foster the possibility of future delinquent behavior that makes delinquency to increase in terms of being associated with delinquent peers.

In studies conducted in the context of the impact of delinquent peers it was found that adolescent attitudes are greatly impacted by the attitude and behavior of peers and such attitudes further impact delinquency. Peer influence on recidivism influences by way of intertwining with the criminal history and its effect. Youth that demonstrate positive definitions towards criminal behavior have higher levels of attachment for each other and this further strengthens their belief system that further leads to repeated criminal behavior. But such relationships among delinquency and peer influence had been questioned by many researchers. Some authors have proposed that delinquency may not necessarily be the result of transmission of concepts that are favrable to violating law in terms of the association with peer delinquents but it is very much possible that birds of a feather flock together.

School discipline and educational performance are known to have an important pairing in suggesting that irrespective of the measurements being used, both males and females that are engaged in criminal behaviors have mostly demonstrated better academic performance. Adolescents that are not able to cope with school routines and dropout in the middle are significantly vulnerable to delinquent behaviors as compared to those that completed studies. School dropouts are more likely to face difficulties in finding suitable jobs and girls that dropout have demonstrated a marked pattern in becoming pregnant as compared to those that remain in school. Therefore, failure in school, though not being directly associated with delinquent behavior, the given pattern creates higher probability of delinquent and repeat delinquent behaviors. A number of research studies have revealed that there is a strong link amongst academic achievements and the pattern of getting admitted in residential institutions not only in terms of the first criminal act but also in the case of recidivism.

It is known that academic performance and negative attitude towards the school environment have a positive relationship with re-offending patterns. It has been found that mostly delinquents score much lower than non-delinquent students in terms of several academic measures. It has also been found that school dropouts stand 3.5 times more likelihood of being arrested as compared to those that complete graduation. Conversely, school bonding and the complexities related with school discipline or directly related with school achievement as also to the occurrence of re-offending patterns. Many researchers had argued that higher levels of school bonding imply a lesser likelihood of students being involved in delinquent behavior. They hold that because the lack of commitment and attachments with the school leads to the increase in cords pertaining to waywardness, truancy and other kinds of disobedient behavior with school authorities is quite a common phenomenon. Students that involved in such behavior are able to influence their peers in supporting and accepting their behavior, which further strengthens and reinforces complexities associated with discipline because the peers themselves become undisciplined.

A direct link has been demonstrated between recidivism and employment patterns, which also confirmed that their relationship is the strongest when there is a positive environment for recidivism. The significance of employment in re-offending patterns was given importance by research efforts that found that it proved to be a turning point in the life directions of juvenile delinquents whereby it was revealed that offenders that are encouraged with employment opportunities stand lesser chances of getting involved in re-offending patterns as compared to those who are not given such opportunities. But the impact on employment is effectively related with age and is felt mostly with older detainees amongst the juvenile delinquents.

Emotional problems and the health of offenders are important aspects in terms of being precursors to the higher probability of returning to correctional facilities after being released. Researchers made a comparison of first-time and repeat offenders from a correctional facility which revealed that the emotional problems of youth were strongly related with repeat runaways in the context of recidivism. Although there is not much evidence to indicate that health problems are important factors that lead to such behaviors, there is a general opinion amongst researchers that people with mental health problems that are released from prison face higher risk of being arrested again (Griffin, 2003).

Most of the research has concluded that young offenders in correctional institutions and in custody exert added aggression as compared to youth that are detained in treatment oriented establishments and juvenile institutions. Youth are known to offend more after being detained in custody as compared to treatment oriented groups.


The overall pattern of prevalence and frequency of criminal activities as also the pattern of arrests are indicative of the fact that incarceration does not achieve much in stopping criminal careers and contact with the criminal justice system after being released for the first crime. There is strong evidence to suggest that in the short term incarceration proves to be harmful to young people, mainly those that are involved in petty and first time crimes. There is increasing evidence to suggest that incarceration also introduces many youth to dealing in drugs who would have otherwise not got involved in the trade. Conversely, incarceration does not enhance the rate at which young people involve in person and property crimes although it does prolong their engagement in such activities. It is known that young people that have been incarcerated stand higher chances of being involved with crimes after their release. Thus it is not surprising that such young people are more prone to get arrested as compared to their peers. Higher incidence of criminal activities leads to higher incidence of arrests for such incarcerated groups. Incarceration enhances or prolongs criminal activities of young people, which enhances their chance of getting arrested again subsequently.

Most of the research efforts in the context of whether incarceration enhances or decreases criminal offending patterns are not very exhaustive so far. The main reason for this situation is the lack of adequate information and statistics concerning the integral selection issues in the context of researching groups of individuals that have been incarcerated by the criminal justice systems. Some researchers took positive initiatives in altering their research strategies from post-test only to pre-test as well as post-test in order to address the prevailing shortcomings and discrepancies. But complications related to threat of validity created hurdles in their efforts. Although the selection problems cannot be completely removed, it is possible to control in the context of time stable circumstances that could have been utilized by the justice systems while selecting their criteria for the same. Very little evidence has been found in the context of deterrence but there is strong evidence to the effect that incarceration produces a strong amplification in the short term on the pattern of frequency of usual crimes and of drug related crimes. There is also strong evidence that suggests there is a decrease in the involvement of juvenile delinquents in non drugs crimes.

The non availability of authentic and adequate data may have resulted in null findings in the long term but the available findings clearly reveal that the amplification argument is quite strong as compared to the deterrence arguments. There is some lacking in terms of inadequate control over the variables and the availability of samples pertaining to young people that could be non representative of youth that are incarcerated or arrested in the entire population. It is actually required to combine the disparities in the used methods with the relevant variables of control that are known to alter over time such as employment, family relationship, drug abuse and subsequent relationship with the criminal justice systems. It is pertinent that future research should consider taking benefit of education and employment variables in order to ascertain the effect of incarceration on employment, while education research should also focus upon investigating if change in frequency levels and prevalence patterns in regard to offending leads from reduced sanctions such as probation and community service.

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