Criminal Justice System Experience and the Transition to Adulthood: Victims, Offenders and Turning Points

Patrick J. Carr, St. Joseph's University
D. Wayne Osgood, The Pennsylvania State University
Ruben G. Rumbaut, St. Joseph's University

This paper analyzes the experiences of young adults as they come into contact with the criminal justice system during the transition to adulthood. The authors utilize data from a five site qualitative study of young adults to examine encounters of young people with the criminal justice system. The authors focus on two main categories of criminal justice experience, those of young adults as victims and/or offenders, and they explore the effects that these experiences have had on the lives of young adults. For example, being the victim of a serious crime can have severe and lasting effects that manifest themselves in many areas of a young adult's life. Similarly, arrest and/or incarceration are major events in the lives of offenders. The authors conclude as to what effect victim and offender encounters with the criminal justice system have on the transition to adulthood, and in what circumstances such experiences serve as turning-points.

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Updated 05/20/2006