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Time to Play, Time to Grow Up - The Role of Crime in Maturation

NCJ Number
S A LeBailly
Date Published
231 pages
This 1984 case study analyzes the problem of maturational reform among chronic juvenile offenders and reform among chronic juvenile offenders and presents data on 25 Illinois youths who were either in a community-based program for serious offenders or in a juvenile institution.
The analysis of data from the Unified Delinquency Intervention Services program, established in Illinois in 1974 as an alternative to incarceration for serious juvenile offenders, is reported. Use of loglinear and regression analysis to examine placement patterns and predictors of different outcomes is discussed. Selection of the interview sample based on variables such as race and age is described, and interviews with the youths in the sample are discussed. Included are their accounts of what their lives were like before high school, and the conflicting set of messages they received about independence from schools, families, and workplaces. Most of the youths began committing crime as an inconsequential activity; however, the meaning of crime changed as the youths allowed their crime involvement to grow. They restructured their behavior to control outcomes and became more sophisticated in their interactions with others. The way the youths developed strategies to make transitions into adulthood and out of crime is considered. Results reveal that most juvenile offenders intend to stop their criminal behavior but are not always successful. The need for interventions to help juveniles develop more legitimate adult behaviors is emphasized. Further research to determine how delinquents actually make the transition to adulthood is urged. Included are 114 references and 7 tables.