Factors Influencing Recidivism in a High-risk Community Sample

Arrest, Sanctions, and Re-entry

Denver Youth Survey

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Research Design of the Denver Youth Survey
Accelerated Longitudinal Design
Currently Covering the Ages 7-26. Sample Size 1528
Based on Five Birth Cohorts Ages 7,9,11,13,15 in 1987
Approximately Equal Number of Boys and Girls
Selected Through a Probability Sample of Households in High Risk Neighborhoods of Denver Colorado.

Interviewed Annually 1988-1992 and 1994-1999.
1978 and 1980 Cohorts Interviewed in 2003.
Qualitative Interviews with a Stratified Sub-sample
of 1976, 1978, & 1980 Birth Cohorts in 2004-2005.

Qualitative Interviews

Recidivism
(For this Presentation)

Theoretical Orientations Toward
Impact of Arrest and Sanctions

The theoretical orientations have practical and political consequences.

Current Public view and
View Among Many Criminologists

General Conclusion From Previous
DYS Findings

How general are these findings?

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An Additional Rational Choice Study
Matsueda, Kraeger, & Huizinga (2005)

Effect of Sanctions Following Arrest

Why Don’t Arrest and Sanctions Have the Expected Effect?

What leads to recidivism?





 Why Don’t Arrest/Sanctions Work?

1. After arrest/incarceration, arrestees return to the same environment (peers, family, school, neighborhood) that (presumably) were instigators of the delinquent behavior.
Placed in the same environment and conditions that existed before apprehension, continuation of the same behavior would be expected.

Return to same Environment without
Services or support

Return to same Environment Without Services or Support

Return to same Environment Without Services or Support

2. The JJS is not a paper tiger,
Empirical Support:       Strong
Qualitative interviews:  Very Strong

 but

Arrest & sanctions, even incarceration,
    are no big deal - even expected.
Empirical Support:       Strong
Qualitative interviews:  Strong: Almost a universal response

Just parts of the “rights of passage” for youth growing  
up in “high-risk” neighborhoods.

Common experience for youth and adults.

Positive rewards - approval, respect of peers.

Is the JJS is seen as a paper tiger?
Evidence: Not generally

Arrest & sanctions, even incarceration,
    are no big deal.

Arrest & sanctions, even incarceration,
    are no big deal.

“Being incarcerated was no big deal, some of my friends were there and we just did our time”.

Arrest,  sanctions, & incarceration, are no big deal.

Arrest & sanctions, even incarceration,
    are no big deal/have little effect.

3. The JJS leads to increased exposure to other delinquent peers, either in the “physical plant” of the JJS or at JJS treatment/sanction sites involving groups of offenders.

Arrest, sanctions, & incarceration are no big deal.
The JJS leads to increased exposure.


4. Probability of Apprehension is low.
There is little risk of arrest per offense for involvement in delinquent behavior. The actual probabilities of arrest and/or sanctions are quite low and the individual’s “experienced probabilities” reflect this.

Probability of Apprehension is low.
There is little risk of arrest per offense for involvement in delinquent behavior.

5. There are personal and social rewards for delinquency … that outweigh risk of apprehension.


 So Why Don’t Arrest and Sanctions Have the Expected Effect?

Some Final Comments

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Implications Based on Current Knowledge

A Final Quote

End

Thanks for Listening!

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"End 2"

Support for Labeling theory  - Weak
Labeling theory. Arrest and incarceration lead to labeling and stigmatization that result in reduced prosocial opportunities and changes in self-concept and beliefs. The outcome is increased delinquency.

9. Arrestees are individuals who are on a different life trajectory. Arrestees are not a random sample of offenders but a sample of offenders with particular backgrounds and personal characteristics that make them particularly more likely to be delinquent, arrested, and more difficult to change.

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