Tuesday, June 11, 2013
The Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission released the first comprehensive study of youth offenders in the state.
Entitled Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice Recidivism Report, the study's goal was to create a "recidivism benchmark" to measure the effectiveness of the state's Juvenile Justice Enhancement Strategy. The idea behind the strategy, according to a press release from the state, is that "recidivism rates can be reduced through the implementation of evidence-based practices."
In the study, recidivism is defined as "a subsequent delinquency adjudication or conviction in criminal court for either a misdemeanor or felony offense within two years of case closure."
In 2007, cases were closed on 18,882 youth who had been under the supervision of a county juvenile probation. Within two years of that time, the study reports, 3,827 youth were subsequently adjudicated delinquent or convicted in criminal court for a new misdemeanor or felony offense. This equates to a 20% — or 1 in 5 — statewide recidivism rate.
According to findings, recidivism rates ranged from 0% (in Clinton and Sullivan Counties) to 45% (in Clarion County). In Allegheny County, the recidivism rate was 16%, with 1,603 juveniles with a case closed in 2007 and a total of 257 recidivists.
The study also notes that expunged cases "create a significant limitation" to the study because when a case is expunged in Pennsylvania "all of a juvenile’s identifying information pertaining to that case is 'erased' and is therefore not available for analysis." Allegheny County had 181 expunged cases.
Here are some other the findings from the report:
• One in five juveniles recidivated within two years of their 2007 case closure.
• 80% of repeat offenders were from “disrupted’’ family situations — situations where parents might be deceased, separate or divorced, or never married. Twenty percent of repeat offenders, meanwhile, were from families where the offender's biological parents were married.
• The younger a juvenile was at the time of their first referral to juvenile court, the more likely he or she was to recidivate.
• Youths under supervision for sex offenses recidivated at a rate of 14 percent. About 2 percent of sex offenders committed another sex offense.
• Boys are three times more likely to return to the system then girls.
• Drug offenders and property offenders were most likely to commit the same types of crimes when they re-offend.
To view the full report, please visit here.