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Studying Deterrence Among High-Risk Adolescents
(NCJ 248617) August 2015
OJJDP Pathways to Desistance, Bulletin, 16 page(s)
T. A. Loughran, R. Brame, J. Fagan, A. R. Piquero, E. P. Mulvey, and C. A. Schubert
The Pathways to Desistance bulletin series presents findings from a multidisciplinary investigation into why many youth who have committed serious offenses stop or reduce offending as they mature whereas others continue to offend into adulthood. The study followed more than 1,300 adolescents in the Philadelphia, PA, and Phoenix, AZ, metropolitan areas for 7 years following their convictions. In this bulletin, the authors present some key findings on the link between perceptions of the threat of sanctions and deterrence from crime among adolescents who have committed serious offenses. Selected findings include: there was no meaningful reduction in offending or arrests in response to more severe punishment (e.g., correctional placement, longer stays); policies targeting specific types of offending may be more effective at deterring youth from engaging in these specific offenses as opposed to general policies aimed at overall crime reduction; in response to an arrest, youth slightly increased their risk perceptions, which is a necessary condition for deterrence; and creating ambiguity about detection probabilities in certain areas or for certain types of crime may have a deterrent effect by enhancing the perceived risk of getting caught.