How Do Adult-Onset Offenders Differ From Juvenile-Onset Offenders?

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Lucy Buckhout
Sarah Manchak


By Lucy Buckhout, Criminal Justice

Advisor: Sarah Manchak

Award: Excellence in Research Communication

Presentation ID: 39

Abstract: Most individuals who violate the law do so for the first time as a juvenile or young adult. Only a small proportion of those in the criminal justice system had their first offense later in adulthood (i.e., "adult-onset offending"). Research suggests that adult-onset offenders are unique in the types of crimes they commit and their risk for future recidivism. The predominant model for offender rehabilitation-the Risk-Needs-Responsivity Model (RNR)-was developed and studied predominantly for persistent, or repeat, offenders who typically began offending in their youth, yet it is often applied to adult-onset offenders without careful consideration of its appropriateness or utility. Using a mixed methods approach with existing data collected from individuals on probation, this study first compares juvenile-onset (0-17) and adult-onset (18+) offenders on (a) index offense, (b) RNR-informed criminogenic risk factors traditionally used to predict reoffending, and (c) individuals' perceptions and thoughts about their involvement in the criminal-legal system. This study can help to improve the field's understanding of the unique and shared risks and attitudes of adult-onset and juvenile-onset offenders. This, in turn, can inform individualized treatment and more judicious allocation of resources.

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Category: Systemic Challenges