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The Effects of Formal Processing of Juveniles

In January 2010, the Campbell Collaboration published a report titled "Formal System Processing of Juveniles: Effects on Delinquency." This report offers an analysis of the effects of formal processing of juveniles.

The debate involving formal processing of juveniles has two components: deterrence and the labeling effect.  Proponents argue that formal processing deters juveniles by scaring off low-level offenders.  It is also believed formal processing screens high-level offenders allowing for placement in a program that prevents recidivism.  In contrast, opponents argue that formal processing creates a labeling effect, a process where juveniles are labeled delinquent further perpetuating this behavior.

This publication explores the objective: "Does juvenile system processing reduce subsequent delinquency?"  Researchers collected data from 29 studies published from 1978 to 2005 measuring severity, prevalence, self-report, and incidence.  The data collected indicates that formal processing does not have an effect on crime control.  In fact, it had a negative impact on reducing juvenile crime when compared to diversion programs and a simple release.

The publication suggests that a legislative policy review regarding the formal processing of juveniles is necessary.  This publication highlights the need to maximize community-based services and the use of diversion programs prior to introducing juveniles into the justice system.

~Tamra Otten, CJCJ staff

Keywords: community corrections, deterrence, youth

Posted in Blog, Juvenile Justice

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