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The transition from juvenile to adult criminal careers Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research
Background • In 1994 Coumarelos followed up 33,900 juveniles until the age of 18 and found that 70 per cent only have one court appearance • This finding has underpinned a policy of minimal intervention with first offenders • However….. • Her study did not follow young offenders into adulthood • It also suffered from sample bias (i.e.it had few offenders whose first court appearance occurred when they were young)
The present study • Identified all (5,476) juvenile offenders making their first court appearance in the NSW Children’s Court in 1995 (n.b.this is before the Young Offenders Act 1997) • Followed them up for eight years (from first appearance in 1995 until 31st December 2003) • Follow up was done using the NSW Reoffending Database which enables individual person’s court appearances to be linked
Research questions • How many times do juvenile offenders re-offend? • What proportion re-offend as adults? • What proportion go on to receive a prison sentence from an adult court? • How long does it take them to re-offend • How do the answers to (1) to (4) vary by age at first court appearance, gender, ATSI status and offence?
Recidivism among young offenders • Of young people who appeared in the children’s court in 1995, within 8 years: • 68 % had had a subsequent court appearance • 43% had reappeared in a Children’s Court • 57% had appeared in an adult court
Persons with first Children’s Court appearance in 1995, average number of reappearances in eight years
ATSI male ATSI female Non-ATSI male Non-ATSI female Figure 1: Number of reappearances predicted by negative binomial regression: by Indigenous status, age at first CA and gender 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 10-14 years 15-16 years 17-18 years Age at the first court appearance Offence at first court appearance had no effect
Persons with first Children’s Court appearance in 1995, % in adult court and adult prison within eight years
Female Male Figure 2: Risk of juvenile offenders appearing in adult court within 8 years as predicted by logistic regression: by Indigenous status, age and gender 100 80 % 60 40 20 0 Non-ATSI ATSI Age at first court appearance and offence had no effect
Figure 3: Risk of juvenile offenders being sent to adult prison within 8 years as predicted by logistic regression: by Indigenous status, age and gender 50 45 40 ATSI male 35 ATSI female % 30 Non-ATSI male 25 Non-ATSI Female 20 15 10 5 0 10-14 years 15-16 years 17-18 years Age at the first court appearance
Do juvenile offending patterns influence adult reoffending and imprisonment? • To examine the impact of juvenile offending on adult offending we need to give every offender an equal chance to acquire an adult conviction • This means we can’t look at prior record and age at first court appearance in the same analysis • So to examine the effect of prior record we restrict our attention to the 1,311 juveniles who were 16 at their first court appearance
16 year olds with first Children’s Court appearance in 1995, % in adult court and adult prison within eight years
Figure 4: Probability of 16 year old juvenile offenders appearing in adult court within 8 years: by children’s court appearances, Indigenous status, age and gender 100 80 % 60 ATSI male ATSI female 40 Non-ATSI male 20 Non-ATSI female 0 1 time 2 times 3+ times No of children’s court appearances
Figure 5: Probability of 16 year old juvenile offenders being sent to adult prison within 8 years: by children’s court appearances, Indigenous status, age and gender 60 50 40 Non-ATSI female % Non-ATSI male 30 ATSI female 20 ATSI male 10 0 1 time 2 times 3+ times Number of Children’s Court appearances
Summary of main findings • Within 8 years of their first court appearance (CA)… • 68% of juvenile offenders reappear in court • 43% reappear in the Children’s Court • 57% reappear in an adult court • 13% have been imprisoned by an adult court • Amongst these offenders… • The average rate of reappearance is 3.5 over 8 yrs • The average time to the second court appearance is 21 months
Summary of main findings (cont) • However, within 8 years of their first CA… • 58% aged 10-14 and 90% of Indigenous offenders will have re-appeared in an adult court • 18% aged 10-14 and 36% of Indigenous offenders will have received a prison sentence (from an adult court) • During this period… • Indigenous offenders will average 8 re-appearances • Offenders aged 10-14 will average 5 reappearances • Indigenous offenders aged 10-14 will average 12 re-appearances
Policy implications • We need programs to reduce the risk of re-offending amongst young people making their first appearance in court • We need to focus these programs on Indigenous offenders and males who are aged 10-14 at their first court appearance • It is hard to mount effective community-based interventions with young offenders, however, without involving their families and schools • Whatever we do to reduce juvenile offending therefore requires a multi-agency approach