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Effect of Police Contact: Does Official Intervention Result in Deviance Amplification?

NCJ Number
Crime & Delinquency Volume: 62 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2016 Pages: 283-307
S. A. Wiley; F. A. Esbensen
Date Published
March 2016
25 pages
Current police policies are based on assumptions that proactive policing strategies will not only deter crime but will also improve police-community relations. The current study seeks to inform this issue by examining the effect of juveniles being stopped or arrested by police on subsequent delinquent behavior and attitudes.
Deterrence theorists argue that general and specific deterrence can be achieved through such policing strategies. Labeling proponents, however, maintain that juveniles stopped and/or arrested by the police, rather than be deterred, will actually engage in more delinquency as a result of this contact. Research to date has provided mixed evidence. The current study examined these perspectives by relying on three waves of data from a multi-site sample of youth. It used propensity score matching to control for pre-existing differences among youth who had and had not experienced police contact. The study found that being stopped or arrested by police not only increased future delinquency but also amplified deviant attitudes. 66 references (Publisher abstract modified)