OLR Research Report

February 18, 2000





By: Christopher Reinhart, Research Attorney

You asked about juvenile recidivism rates in other states.


We found recidivism information for the following states: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington. Most of this information is from a 1995 national juvenile justice survey conducted by the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO).

As the NASBO survey points out, recidivism studies vary among the states in the type of program studied, length of time studied, and definition of recidivism. This makes it difficult to compare the statistics. In addition, the NASBO report is not specific on some of the details of these studies and we have excluded some of the studies for this reason. But most of the studies cite recidivism rates between 30% and 60%.

According to John Lachappelle, Long Lane superintendent, Connecticut's juvenile system is not set up to produce these statistics.

In addition, a recent Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) report states that 54% of males and 73% of females who enter the juvenile justice system in the United States never return to juvenile court on a new referral (OJJDP, Juvenile Justice: A Century of Change, 1999). These figures do not seem to match the statistics in other studies and we are tracking down the original OJJDP report to find the basis for this information.

The section below presents recidivism studies from various states. Attached is the NASBO report.



During fiscal year 1993, 33% of clients were recommitted to the Department of Youth Services.


Of 3,212 offenders released to parole in 1995 by the California Youth Authority, 49.6% violated their parole within 24 months.


In a study from November 1993, 32% (including 7% who were already under adult court authority at discharge) were adjudicated or convicted for a felony or misdemeanor within one year of discharge from the Division of Youth Services.


In a December 31, 1992 study, 71% of juveniles from all programs were re-referred, re-adjudicated, or re-committed. Academic studies compared the recidivism of transfers to adult courts with a matching group of juveniles who were not transferred. For 1987 cases, 30% of transfers and 19% of non-transfers were arrested through the end of 1988 (Bishop, et al., “The Transfer of Juveniles to Criminal Court: Does it Make a Difference?,” 42 Crime and Delinquency 171 (1996)). But extending the period through November 15, 1994, 42% of transfers and 43% of non-transfers had been arrested (Winner, et al., “The Transfer of Juveniles to Criminal Court: Reexamining Recidivism Over the Long Term,” 43 Crime and Delinquency 548 (1997)).


An October 1994 study covered releases from the Department of Children and Youth Services (DCYS) during calendar year 1990. 56.7% were recommitted to DCYS (including recommitment after release and admission to adult probation or adult prison).


A 1998 report studied all youth born in 1977 who entered the juvenile system (20,053 youth with at least two years to re-offend as adults). Of this group, 56% never returned after their first intake by the Department of Juvenile Justice and 44% were re-referred to the department. Of the 4,200 placed on probation at least once, 64% were again referred to the department for subsequent offences after their first time on probation. Of the 2,963 detained at least once, 66% were re-referred to the department for subsequent offences. Of the 1,564 committed to the department's custody for placement in residential programs, 43% were re-referred to the agency for subsequent offenses, 23% were re-adjudicated delinquent, and 15% were recommitted to department custody (Maryland Department of Justice, A Review of Recidivism Rates Among All Juvenile Justice Youths Born in 1977, February 2, 1998).


A 1991 report studied juveniles released from seven selected long-term (at least three months) facilities. Recidivism rates varied in these facilities. Between 53% and 77% of males and between 41% and 58% of females were petitioned in juvenile court or arrested for crimes as an adult within two years of release from the juvenile facility (Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor, Residential Facilities for Juveniles, 2/15/95).


In a 1994 10-year longitudinal study, 35% of juveniles committed to the Division of Youth Services as a juvenile offender later appeared as adult offenders on the Department of Corrections records. But because the study included those released soon before the study's completion date, the authors estimated a long-term recidivism rate of about 50%.

North Dakota

In a study between July 1991 and June 30, 1993, 20.4% of those confined, under supervision, or within three years of release had a new juvenile adjudication resulting in court sanctions.


In a study of youth referred to court for the first time during fiscal 1989, 26% had a subsequent referral through Fiscal 1992.


In a December 1992 study, 36.4% were returned to custody within one year of their first release.


A study of fiscal year 1994 looked at youth discharged by the agency or released from primary care to aftercare. The study found that (1) 46.5% were rearrested within one year; (2) 24.9% were rearrested for a crime at least as serious as the one that led to the last arrest; and (3) 46.2% were re-incarcerated within three years for parole revocation, recommitment to the Texas Youth Commission, or commitment to an adult prison.


A 1985 study found that 63% to 70% of those released from secure care in the Department of Youth Corrections were rearrested for a less serious offense within 12 months of release.


A 1991 study found that 59% of juveniles had new convictions within a year of release from custody.