This study investigated the evolution of offending within a sample of adolescent offenders in two large cities referred to juvenile and adult courts for serious criminal offenses.
Building on the limited literature, this study explored the relationship between offending as measured by self-reports and official records on the same individuals in two large cities, Philadelphia, PA, and Phoenix, AZ. The study focused on a relatively extreme sample of adolescent serious offenders which differed from previous studies. It provides basic descriptive information about the composition of the sample and then investigated the distribution of involvement in self-reported offending during the year preceding a baseline interview, along with the distribution of arrests that resulted in a referral to the juvenile courts in both cities. The project recruited 1,354 adjudicated adolescents between the ages of 13 and 19 years in Philadelphia and Phoenix. This analysis led to conclusions that were quite similar to those obtained in general population studies. The findings indicate that offense frequencies tend to be positively skewed, individuals who are arrested more often tend to self-report involvement in offending at greater levels than those who have been arrested less often, and the correlation between self-reported offending frequency and arrest frequency is relatively robust across different demographic groups within the population. Future research is recommended in tracking self-report and official records over time within individuals to examine changes in criminal offending between different measurement approaches. Tables and references