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Public Policy and Administration


Lori Demeter


Youth delinquency is a major social problem in the United States with approximately 29% of youths aged 18 to 21 reoffending within the first year of release in Massachusetts. Given the amount of state resources used for youth corrections, the factors that encourage the youth to reoffend become important to understand. The purpose of this quantitative, cross-sectional correlational study was to examine whether community and environmental risks and resources are related with successful reentry of youth returning from detention centers in Massachusetts. Using the collective efficacy and routine activities theory to explain the motivations to reoffend, the study sought to answer whether the level of neighborhood risks, availability of jobs, availability of schooling, and availability of prosocial activities have an effect on recidivism rates. Publicly available data consisting of 347 youth returning from Massachusetts detention centers in 2008 were analyzed using logistic regression. The results showed that available neighborhood resources such as schooling and prosocial activities were statistically related with the rates of reoffending among youth reentering the community following incarceration. These results have important policy-making, education, and legal implications in reducing the reoffending rate of juveniles who have been released from incarceration. Educators, detention center personnel, and the community can benefit by collaborating to provide youth offenders with a special learning community that focuses on educating youth during and after release, thereby increasing the chances of successful reentry.

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