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Juvenile Jails: A Path to the Straight and Narrow or to Hardened Criminality?

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  • Randi Hjalmarsson

Abstract

Juvenile justice systems throughout the United States have become increasingly punitive since the 1970s. Most states have passed legislation making it easier to transfer juveniles to the criminal courts. Supporters of this "get tough" movement argue, in part, that juvenile courts are ineffective in deterring young offenders. This claim, however, is based primarily on poorly designed evaluations that do not account for the nonrandom nature of sentencing. This paper demonstrates how the institutional features of the justice system can be exploited to identify causality when true random assignment is not feasible. In particular, I capitalize on discontinuities in punishment that arise in Washington State's juvenile sentencing guidelines to identify the effect of incarceration on the postrelease criminal behavior of juveniles. The results indicate that incarcerated individuals have lower propensities to be reconvicted of a crime. This deterrent effect is also observed for older, criminally experienced, and/or violent youths. (c) 2009 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved..

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 52 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 779-809

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:52:y:2009:i:4:p:779-809

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Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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Cited by:
  1. Braakmann, Nils, 2013. "Deterrence and age thresholds in punishment in British criminal law," MPRA Paper 44886, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Lindqvist, Erik, 2010. "Planned Treatment and Outcomes in Residential Youth Care: Evidence from Sweden," Working Paper Series 834, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  3. Entorf, Horst, 2011. "Turning 18: What a Difference Application of Adult Criminal Law Makes," MPRA Paper 29811, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Ignacio Munyo, . "The Juvenile Crime Dilemma," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Georgiou, Georgios, 2014. "Does increased post-release supervision of criminal offenders reduce recidivism? Evidence from a statewide quasi-experiment," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 221-243.
  6. David S. Lee & Justin McCrary, 2009. "The Deterrence Effect of Prison: Dynamic Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 1168, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  7. Maurin, Eric & Ouss, Aurelie, 2009. "Sentence Reductions and Recidivism: Lessons from the Bastille Day Quasi Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 3990, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Alain Cohn & Michel André Maréchal & Thomas Noll, 2013. "Bad boys: the effect of criminal identity on dishonesty," ECON - Working Papers 132, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  9. McCrary, Justin & Lee, David S., 2009. "The Deterrence Effect of Prison: Dynamic Theory and Evidence," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt2gh1r30h, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  10. Entorf, Horst, 2012. "Expected recidivism among young offenders: Comparing specific deterrence under juvenile and adult criminal law," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 414-429.
  11. Christoph Engel & Heike Hennig-Schmidt & Bernd Irlenbusch & Sebastian Kube, 2009. "On Probation. An Experimental Analysis," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2009_38, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  12. Frank Sloan & Alyssa Platt & Lindsey Chepke & Claire Blevins, 2013. "Deterring domestic violence: Do criminal sanctions reduce repeat offenses?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 46(1), pages 51-80, February.

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