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NCJ Number: 197444 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Getting Tough on Juvenile Crime: An Analysis of Costs and Benefits
Journal: Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency  Volume:39  Issue:4  Dated:November 2002  Pages:363-399
Author(s): Simon M. Fass; Chung-Ron Pi
Date Published: November 2002
Page Count: 37
Sponsoring Agency: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Washington, DC 20531
Grant Number: 98-JN-FX-0001
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article reports on a cost-benefit analysis of the current "get tough" policy that permeates juvenile justice systems throughout the country.
Abstract: Over the past few decades, juvenile justice policy has broadened its focus on the treatment needs of the juvenile to give priority to matching punitive sentencing to the severity of the offense. This expanded focus has been manifested in juvenile codes that include transfers of juveniles to adult criminal court for adjudication in cases of serious offenses. The sparsity of pertinent research and cost-benefit analyses regarding this policy shift, however, leaves open the question about its effectiveness in improving delinquency reduction. The current study combined a quasi-experimental empirical simulation of the effects of punitive sanctions with a cost-benefit analysis of alternative dispositions in Dallas County, Texas. Specifically, the research analyzed the net benefits associated with sentencing juveniles who committed more serious offenses to probation rather than deferred prosecution, to intensive-supervision probation rather than regular probation, to local residential placement under county custody rather than intensive supervision, and to placement under State custody rather than local placement. After briefly reviewing the shortcomings and strengths of the cost-benefit analysis procedures, this article describes the data and methods used to estimate differences in the numbers of reoffenses and redispositions that followed initial shifts to more restrictive sanctions and the associated dollar values for unit costs and benefits. Combining these estimates, the authors then present their findings for each disposition pair in terms of net benefit and cost-effectiveness. The findings indicate that tangible costs incurred by the justice system under a more punitive regime were not matched by tangible cost-saving benefits. Together, system benefits from a reduction in redispositions and the number of victims, along with other benefits from a reduction in reoffenses, were not sufficiently large to offset investments in harsher sanctions. Although these findings were specific to Dallas County, the similarities in economic, demographic, and juvenile characteristics across major U.S. metropolitan areas led the authors to conclude that the findings also would apply to other metropolitan areas. 9 tables, 18 notes, 61 references, and appended supplementary data on the variables analyzed
Main Term(s): Juvenile Corrections/Detention effectiveness
Index Term(s): Comparative analysis; Cost/Benefit Analysis; Deterrence effectiveness; Juvenile justice policies; Juvenile sentencing; Punishment; Texas
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