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Carol A. Schubert

Issues related to the impact of an adolescent's level of maturity on future offending are discussed. In particular, ways to help serious juvenile offenders acquire the skills they need to live crime-free in the community. This report explains why: serious juvenile offenders, like their non-offending counterparts, vary in their patterns of development; most serious juvenile offenders are not on the road to persistent adult offending; multiple components of maturity are related to reduced offending; and reducing offending means not simply restricting opportunities to offend but expanding opportunities to grow. "Analyses of the Pathways study confirm that, while part of the equation involves natural changes in thinking, such as impulse control and considering the consequences of one’s actions, other factors also play important roles. It appears that programs that promote an examination of one’s thoughts and actions (such as cognitive behavioral therapy), combined with opportunities to practice and internalize that thinking (such as employment), can help young offenders mature and significantly reduce their offending" (p. 1).

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The impact of sanctions, whether threatened or applied, on deterrence of crime by high-risk adolescents is examined. Sections of this bulletin include: background; key terms; increasing deterrence through severity—institutional placement and length of stay; increasing deterrence through certainty—offenders' perceptions of risk; increasing certainty though arrest; behavioral responses to changes in risk perceptions—the certainty effect; the deterrent effect of ambiguity in offender risk perceptions; policy implications; and conclusion. Some of the results are: 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; 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" (p. 1).

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