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Is jail for juvenile offenders effective in preventing future crime?




A probation officer walks through a dormitory at Camp Afflerbaugh.
A probation officer walks through a dormitory at Camp Afflerbaugh.
Grant Slater/KPCC

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When it comes to first-time violent juvenile offenders, is jail effective at preventing future crimes?

A new UCLA study finds that in-house probation lowers recidivism for first time violent juvenile offenders.  

Using data from the Los Angeles County Probation Department and the county Department of Children and Family Services, researchers pulled out hundreds of thousands of records of first-time violent offenders 16 years old and younger who were arrested from 2003 to 2005.

The offenders were given one of three judicial dispositions: in-home probation, group-home placement, or probation camp.  They then followed the records of those youth through February 2009 to see if they had been arrested again. 

Key findings from the study include:

Laura Abrams, professor of social welfare in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, says, “there’s more common knowledge now that sentencing juveniles out of the home for isn’t good for the kids.”