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A Refutation of Racial Differentials in the Juvenile Recidivism Rate Hypothesis

Jospeter M. Mbuba


It has repeatedly been argued that race is an important predictor of juvenile recidivism, invariably with black offenders having significantly higher odds of recidivating than white offenders (DeComo, 1998; Strom, 2000; Benda, 2001; Langan & Levin, 2002; Harms, 2003; Pope and Snyder, 2003; Puzzanchera, 2003; Stahl, 2003). This study refutes that assertion. Using data from the Department of Public Safety and Corrections in the state of Louisiana, a total of 2,810 juvenile offenders released in the 1999/2000 fiscal year were examined and a socio-demographic profile of those who were returned into the correctional system one year post release was established. The results failed to show a statistically significant difference in the likelihood of recidivating between black offenders and white offenders, leading to a conclusion that race is not an important predictor of juvenile recidivism.

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