Report: Studying Deterrence Among High-Risk Adolescents
Date:  08-14-2015

Research found harsher punishment had little effect in reducing future offenses
Earlier this month the Office of Justice Programs Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) released a new report Studying Deterrence Among High-Risk Adolescents , The research for the report sought to find answers for the following questions:

  • Do their offending and punishment experiences mold offenders’ perceptions of risks and consequences of offending (which relate directly to their propensity to be deterred from crimes)?

  • Does placing offenders in a correctional facility have any tangible deterrent effects?

  • Does longer placement have a more deterrent effect on juveniles? The answers may surprise some who support harsh penalties for those who commit crimes.

    The following are highlights taken from the report:

    The Pathways to Desistance study followed more than 1,300 serious juvenile offenders for 7 years after their conviction. In this bulletin, the authors present some key findings on the link between perceptions of the threat of sanctions and deterrence from crime among serious adolescent offenders. Selected findings are as follows:

  • There was no meaningful reduction in offending or arrests in response to more severe punishment (e.g., correctional placement, longer stays).

  • Policies targeting specific types of offending may be more effective at deterring youth from engaging in these specific offenses as opposed to general policies aimed at overall crime reduction.

  • In response to an arrest, youth slightly increased their risk perceptions, which is a necessary condition for deterrence.

  • Creating ambiguity about detection probabilities in certain areas or for certain types of crime may have a deterrent effect by enhancing the perceived risk of getting caught.

    To continue reading the full report click here.