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Youth Justice: Criminal Trajectories

NCJ Number
Mark Lynch; Julianne Buckman; Leigh Krenske
Date Published
September 2003
This paper presents key findings from a longitudinal study that examined recidivism among a group of 1,503 young offenders.
Although longitudinal studies are considered highly instructive when examining criminal trajectories, scant research has been conducted in Australia that incorporates longitudinal methods into an examination of juvenile recidivism patterns. In order to fill this gap in the research literature and make steps toward informing public policy, the “Youth Justice: Criminal Trajectories Project” linked datasets from the Department of Families, the Queensland Police Service, and the Department of Corrective Services to develop an analysis of the cohort’s criminal trajectory. The result was a dataset that measured recidivism by tracking young offenders from the time they made court appearances in 1994 and 1995 in Queensland to adult criminal penalties served up to September 2002. An examination of these criminal trajectories indicates that 79 percent of juveniles who received supervised orders in 1994 and 1995 had progressed to the adult corrections system by 2002 and 49 percent had experienced at least one term of imprisonment. Of the Indigenous juveniles on supervised orders in 1994-1995, 89 percent had progressed to the adult corrections system by 2002. Of those juveniles who had been subjected to a care and protection order in addition to a supervised justice order, 91 percent had progressed to the adult corrections system by 2002. The study results have important implications for the juvenile justice system policy in terms of the effectiveness of current responses to juvenile offending. Furthermore, despite the high probability of a juvenile offender progressing to become an adult offender, there is a paucity of rigorous evaluations of current intervention strategies. The results indicate a clear need for multidisciplinary and inter-agency collaborations for pre- and post-delinquency interventions. Figures, notes, references