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Measuring Recidivism Rate in Juvenile Cases

September 29th, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Rolling Meadows defense lawyer, juvenile delinquincy, juvenile crime rate, In many ways, juvenile cases are treated differently than criminal cases in adult court. As a general rule, the court’s focus in juvenile cases should be on providing treatment to minor offenders and focusing on their rehabilitation in an attempt to steer them away from becoming lifetime criminal offenders. Sometimes, this works. Other times, it does not. One way officials have attempted to determine how successfully a juvenile has been rehabilitated is to study recidivism rates, or whether they have repeated criminal conduct. As one study points out, states measure recidivism differently, which could lead to inaccurate information.

Differences in Measuring Recidivism

Whether or not a juvenile has successfully rehabilitated after having a run-in with the law is often determined according to whether or not they have re-offended. The problem with this method is that different agencies in different states use different factors to determine rates of recidivism, which often leads to unreliable data, according to the study. For example, some may or may not use an adult arrest as a variable to calculate the rate of recidivism while others may or may not use a juvenile arrest. In addition, the study found that other varying factors include taking a type of juvenile facility into account, as opposed to the length of a juvenile’s stay in that facility. These differences make comparisons among states and agencies virtually useless.

However, tracking individual progress is still worthwhile as long as there is a consistent measure of recidivism within an agency. If states do so, they can use the information gathered to improve their performance, enforce accountability, and use resources more efficiently.

Beyond Recidivism

Tracking recidivism is not the only thing to focus on in determining the success of a juvenile’s rehabilitation. Factors such as education, employment, and health are equally important. However, many of these factors are left out of agencies’ calculations completely. The study encouraged policymakers and juvenile justice agency leaders to include such factors in their measures for success, to help determine not only whether a juvenile is staying out of the criminal system but also on positive outcomes, including whether he or she is becoming a productive adult.

The danger in keeping the focus solely on recidivism is that it assumes offenders need correcting but that society does not, and that correcting offenders will surely lead to reduced rates in crime. In addition, only considering recidivism in determining a juvenile’s success may indicate the juvenile justice process was effective when in fact, the juvenile can actually have had a negative outcome.

Criminal Defense Attorney

The experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have successful experience representing juveniles who have been charged with crimes. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

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