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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Randi Hjalmarsson, 2009. "Juvenile Jails: A Path to the Straight and Narrow or to Hardened Criminality?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(4), pages 779-809, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:52:y:2009:i:4:p:779-809
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Laura Chioda, 2017. "Stop the Violence in Latin America," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 25920.
    2. Ozkan Eren & Naci Mocan, 2017. "Juvenile Punishment, High School Graduation and Adult Crime: Evidence from Idiosyncratic Judge Harshness," NBER Working Papers 23573, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. 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.
    4. Lotti, Giulia, 2016. "Tough on young offenders: harmful or helpful?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1126, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    5. Joshua Hall & Kaitlyn Harger & Dean Stansel, 2015. "Economic Freedom and Recidivism: Evidence from US States," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 21(2), pages 155-165, May.
    6. Christoph Engel & Heike Hennig-Schmidt & Bernd Irlenbusch & Sebastian Kube, 2009. "On Probation. An Experimental Analysis," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2009_38, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    7. Anaïs Henneguelle & Benjamin Monnery & Annie Kensey, 2016. "Better at Home than in Prison? The Effects of Electronic Monitoring on Recidivism in France," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(3), pages 629-667.
    8. 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.
    9. Entorf, Horst, 2011. "Turning 18: What a Difference Application of Adult Criminal Law Makes," IZA Discussion Papers 5434, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Ignacio Munyo, 2015. "The Juvenile Crime Dilemma," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(2), pages 201-211, April.
    11. 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..
    12. David S. Lee & Justin McCrary, 2009. "The Deterrence Effect of Prison: Dynamic Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 1171, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    13. repec:kap:iaecre:v:21:y:2015:i:2:p:155-165 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. David S. Lee & Justin McCrary, 2009. "The Deterrence Effect of Prison: Dynamic Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 1171, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    15. repec:oup:restud:v:82:y:2015:i:4:p:1289-1308. is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Aaron Chalfin & Justin McCrary, 2017. "Criminal Deterrence: A Review of the Literature," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(1), pages 5-48, March.
    17. Alain Cohn & Michel André Maréchal & Thomas Noll, 2015. "Bad Boys: How Criminal Identity Salience Affects Rule Violation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(4), pages 1289-1308.
    18. 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).
    19. repec:pri:cepsud:189lee is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Lindqvist, Erik, 2011. "Planned treatment and outcomes in residential youth care: Evidence from Sweden," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 21-27, January.
    21. 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.
    22. Braakmann, Nils, 2013. "Deterrence and age thresholds in punishment in British criminal law," MPRA Paper 44886, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    23. Anna Piil Damm & Britt Østergaard Larsen & Helena Skyt Nielsen & Marianne Simonsen, 2017. "Lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility: Consequences for juvenile crime and education," Economics Working Papers 2017-10, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    24. 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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