Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2010, $199,994)
OJJDP's Field Initiated Research and Evaluation (FIRE) Program funds research and evaluation that address how the juvenile justice system responds to juvenile delinquency. Funded research projects seek answers to questions that will inform policy and suggest ways to enhance the juvenile justice system. As set forth in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, as amended (Pub. L. No. 93-415, 42 U.S.C. § 5601 et seq.), OJJDP may conduct research or evaluation in juvenile justice matters, for the purpose of providing research and evaluation relating to control of juvenile delinquency and serious crime committed by juveniles; successful efforts to prevent first-time minor offenders from committing subsequent involvement in serious crime; successful efforts to prevent recidivism; and the juvenile justice system. This program is authorized pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3796ee et seq.
The Urban Institute and the University of Texas at Austin will conduct a study on "The Effect of Juvenile Arrest on Reoffending and Rearrest." Prior research fails to substantiate that arrest has a deterrent effect and suggests that arresting juveniles increases reoffending. However, much of the literature is limited in controlling for selection bias and typically fails to examine important moderating conditions. The researchers will address these limitations in their research design. They will use longitudinal data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN). Propensity score matching will generate samples of youth who have been arrested, warned and released, or not arrested, that are otherwise equivalent on offending and other predisposing variables. The researchers will then estimate the effects of arrest on reoffending and rearrest. They will also investigate whether the effect of arrest differs by key moderating variables suggested by labeling and deterrence theory including: first vs. later arrests; offending history; school involvement; peer delinquency; and neighborhood disadvantage. Additional analyses will explore variation by offender race, ethnicity, and immigrant generation, and determine whether any such variation is accounted for by the preceding moderating variables. A roundtable of researchers, practitioners and policymakers will be convened to consider the policy and practice implications of this study's findings and those of related studies.