Thus, the juvenile justice system was established and empowered to deal with cases of juvenile delinquency.
After serving the punishment handed down by the juvenile justice system, the juvenile delinquent is released from custody or supervision. The interest in the effectiveness of the justice system in reforming the individual gave rise to a wealth of literature particularly in the subject of re-offense. This paper aims to determine and discuss the nature of troubled youth re-offense and evaluate the policies aimed in addressing them. In reading this paper, one will come to know that re-offense is more commonly referred to as recidivism and that several socio-demographic, legal and policy-related factors are involved in its dynamics.
Reoffending is more commonly known as recidivism and is legally taken to refer to the act of an individual committing an offense after being released from a correctional facility. The interest in determining the tendency of an individual to commit a crime again has given rise to several studies concerning recidivism. Maltz (1984) conducted a literature review and was able to identify at least 14 working definitions with the most prominent being re-arrest, resentence and readjust/reconviction (i.e. on trial and investigation again). The three main definitions are as follows:
An individual is re-arrested once he is...
In short, the mere act of being arrested is taken to be indicative of recidivism.
A child or an adolescent is considered to have been resentenced once he is subjected to a period of custody or supervision. However, much of the resentence is not contingent on the process of adjudication but more on the report provided by the probationary officer which can be highly subjective. For example, the probationary officer may have deemed it probable that the individual will reoffend again and recommended the return-to-custody as a pre-emptive measure.
This measure is considered by many researchers such as Champion (1998) to be the most reliable indication of re-offense. Through an official judicial proceeding, it confirms that the person has subsequently committed an offense (not necessarily the same one that he committed). It should be noted that re-adjudication is primarily applied for juveniles in juvenile court but there are juveniles being tried and found guilty in adult courts. In this process, they are considered as being reconvicted.
Many studies such as that of Greenwood et. al. (1993) found this measure to be more appropriate due to the relative ease of access to data and subjects not being required to cooperate. Nonetheless, there is an increasing tendency to combine and use all of the three prominent definitions such as what was conducted by Caggiano (1986) and Langan & Levin (2002).
Sociological and criminological research such as that of Klein & Caggiano (1986) and the Florida Department of Corrections (2003) have investigated the connection between recidivism and variables such as age, race, gender, offense type, family background, peer pressure and