The state has released its first-ever report on juvenile recidivism – that’s a tally of the number of juveniles who were back in the court system for new crimes within two years of the adjudication of their criminal cases. The report by the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission studied cases that closed in 2007, finding that twenty percent of juvenile offenders were back in the system within two years, either having become adults or still categorized as youth offenders.
Further analysis revealed that eighty percent of the repeaters were from disrupted family situations; the younger the offender was the first time around, the more likely he or she is to be arrested again; males were three times more likely than females to get in trouble with the law again; drug and property offenders were the most problematic; and sex offenders were likely to be back in court at a fourteen percent rate, although only two percent of them were back for sex crimes.
To get a truer examination of the rates, the study also used an “alternative” definition of repeat offender, to include cases in which ARD was offered and records were expunged. Using that definition, the recidivism rate was 22 percent.
In Indiana County, the actual recidivism rate was 13 percent -much better than the statewide average – and using the alternative definition, it was 18 percent. With 80 juvenile cases closed in 2007, 14 of those defendants were back in the court system within two years.
Among our neighbors, Armstrong’s rate was 16 percent, jumping to 18 percent using the alternative definition; Cambria was 16 perccent using both definitions; Clearfield was 25 percent using both; Jefferson County’s actual rate was 25 percent, 28 percent using the expanded definition; and Westmoreland’s rates were 13 and 17 percent.