Seven-year Life Outcomes of Adolescent Offenders in Los Angeles

Published In: American Journal of Public Health, v. 99, no. 5, May 2009, p. 863-870

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2008

by Rajeev Ramchand, Andrew R. Morral, Kirsten Becker

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OBJECTIVES: The authors examined important life outcomes for adolescent offenders to describe how they were faring in young adulthood. METHODS: We assessed 449 adolescent offenders (aged 13-17 years) in Los Angeles, CA, whose cases had been adjudicated by the Los Angeles Superior Court and who had been referred to group homes between February 1999 and May 2000. The authors used the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs to interview respondents at baseline and at 3, 6, 12, 72, and 87 months after baseline. A total of 395 respondents (88%) were interviewed or confirmed as dead at the final interview. RESULTS: At final interview, 12 respondents had died, 7 of them from gunshot wounds. Thirty-six percent of respondents reported recent hard drug use, and 27% reported 5 or more symptoms of substance dependence. Sixty-six percent reported committing an illegal activity within the previous year, 37% reported being arrested within the previous year, and 25% reported being in jail or prison every day for the previous 90 days. Fifty-eight percent had completed high school or obtained a GED, and 63% reported working at a job in the previous year. CONCLUSIONS: The high rates of negative life outcomes presented here suggest the need for more effective rehabilitation programs for juvenile offenders.

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