Desistance Among Young Parolees

Marilyn McShane, Prairie View A&M University
Frank P. Williams III, Prairie View A&M University
Claudia Rios Hirsch, Prairie View A & M University

In recent years, much attention has been focused on the juvenile offender, perceived changes in the types and seriousness of crimes being committed by the juvenile and a controversial variety of treatment interventions such as boot camps, corporal punishments and culturally-specific programs. Reports on school shootings, violent gangs and murders being perpetrated by seven-year-old "superprediators" have dominated the newspapers and sent practitioners and policy makers scrambling to develop ways to prevent crime, predict and intercept high risk offenders and implement supervision programs that will both rehabilitate the offender and protect the community.

On the average, crimes committed by juveniles are not as serious as the media reflect and the average juvenile is older than the very young offenders we see in the news. Of the 2.7 million arrests of persons under the age of 18, two-thirds were youths 15 and older. In addition, some youths are arrested multiple times, meaning that the total number of those involved is uch fewer than the number of arrests seems to indicate. Less than 6 percent of these arrests were for a violent offense (Snyder et al., 1996). In 1992, murder and rape together, represented less than half of one percent of all juvenile arrests in this country (Jones & Krisberg, 1994).

In turn, crime experts have lined up to debunk DiIlulio's superpredator predictions. As Schiaraldi (2001:1) explains, "the number of homicides committed by youth in American actually dropped by 68 percent between 1993 and 1999, and youth crime is currently at its lowest in 25 years."

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Updated 05/20/2006