Juvenile vs. Criminal Courts: Comparing Recidivism of Adolescent Felony Offenders Across Court Contexts

Aaron Kupchik, New York University
Jeffrey Fagan, Columbia University
Akiva Liberman, National Institute of Justice

ABSTRACT
This presentation will report the final analyses of a replication and extension of research by Fagan (1996) that compared the outcomes and impacts of juvenile and criminal court sanctions on recidivism among adolescent felony offenders. In this study we have compared the rates of recidivism between two similar groups of adolescents, both consisting of 15 and 16-year-olds who were, in 1992 or 1993, charged with either robbery, burglary, or aggravated assault. The matched sample consists of 2,400 adolescents -- 1,200 from New York's criminal courts and 1,200 from New Jersey's juvenile courts. A two-factor natural experment tested the effects of court jurisdiction (juvenile versus adult) and sanction severity on recidivism. We explore the effects of criminalizing adolescent crime, the effect of jurisdictional context on recidivism, and the policy implications of this research. We also contrast these results ot the results of previous research, and question the effect of changes among juvenile justice policy and practice over time.

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Updated 05/20/2006