Age at First Offense as a Predictor of Recidivism among High-risk Juvenile Delinquents Versus All Juvenile Delinquents
Researchers have generally found a moderate negative correlation between juvenile delinquents’ age at first offense and their risk of recidivism (Cottle, Lee, & Heilbrun, 2001). However, two studies at the El Paso Juvenile Probation Department (El Paso JPD) by Valenzuela (2011) and Ranadive (2014) found the correlation of age at first referral with recidivism to be non-significant and close to zero. A possible explanation for these findings at El Paso JPD is that age at first referral is predictive of recidivism among high-risk juvenile offenders but not in the general population of all juveniles referred to the justice system. The present study explored this possibility by comparing recidivism in two groups of juvenile delinquents: (a) 2,255 juveniles referred for the first time to El Paso JPD between January 2004 and December 2013 (All Juveniles sample), and (b) 49 participants in the El Paso JPD Challenge Academy with a history of serious and/or chronic offending (Serious and Chronic sample). As hypothesized, in the All Juveniles sample the correlation of age at first referral with recidivism during the 12-months following first offense was positive but close to zero (r=.073, p< .001). However, contrary to hypothesis, in the Serious and Chronic sample the correlation of age at first offense with re-offending during the 12-months following discharge from Challenge was positive and marginally significant (r=.272, p=.061), Survival curve analyses, Cox regressions and hierarchical logistic regression yielded similar results. These findings for both the general juvenile population and serious/chronic offenders are contrary to what would be expected based on most prior studies (Cottle et al. 2001): Juveniles at El Paso JPD who are younger at the time of their first referral are not at greater recidivism risk than juveniles who are older at the time of their first referral.
Lopez, Claudia, "Age at First Offense as a Predictor of Recidivism among High-risk Juvenile Delinquents Versus All Juvenile Delinquents" (2018). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI13424325.