Juvenile Murderers and Post-Release Success

Erin Spencer, University of South Florida
Kathleen M. Heide, University of South Florida
Wilson R. Palacios, University of South Florida
James B. Halsted, University of South Florida

Increased interest has focused on juvenile homicide offenders since the mid 1980s when juvenile arrests for murder increased dramatically in the United States. Although studies have suggested that many young killers will be released from confinement, a review of the existing literature indicated that very little is known about the characteristics of juvenile murderers that are correlated with post-release success and failure. This paper provides follow-up data on 43 offenders who were released after serving time in adult prison for one or more counts of murder, attempted murder, or in a few cases, of manslaughter. Hypotheses designed to explore the relationships between select characteristics of juvenile homicide offenders and recidivism were tested using interview and agency record data across eight areas: family, peers and social environment, dependency history, school, substance use, delinquency history, incarceration behavior, and personality development. This paper examines to what extent,if any, these variables were related to post-release success among sample subjects.

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Updated 05/20/2006