Recidivism of Juvenile Sex Offenders – Research Proposal

Introduction

Juveniles are the perpetrators of a significant number of sexual offenses. There are various causal factors for sexual offending behavior. Experiences and developmental deficiencies are some of the major causes of sexual offending behavior. Research shows that there are significant differences between juvenile sexual offenders who target the youth or adults and juvenile sexual offenders who target children. However, research has also shown that juvenile sexual offenders are significantly different from adult sexual offenders (Becker, 1998). Committing sexual offenses does not imply that the juvenile is a ‘miniature adult’. To tackle the problem of sexual offenses, it is vital to determine whether juvenile sex offenders have a higher risk of engaging in sexual offenses. It is a fact that a fraction of the juvenile sexual offenders do not continue engaging in sexual offenses in their adulthood.

The recidivism rates of juvenile sexual offenders would help in determining whether they have certain traits that increase their susceptibility to engage in offensive sexual behavior in the future. In addition, the recidivism rates of juvenile sex offenders compared to the proportion of adults who commit sexual offenses would help in determining whether certain measures that strive to reduce recidivism of juvenile sex offenders are suitable in improving safety of members of the community.

Purpose

The objective of the research was to determine factors that affect the recidivism of juvenile sexual offenders. The research also strived to determine factors that make juveniles be at a higher risk of engaging in sexual offensive behavior. it strived to determine whether juvenile sex offenders have certain traits that increased their likelihood of engaging in sexually offensive behavior in the future.

Part 2: Literature Review

Caldwell, M.F., Ziemke, M.H. & Vitacco, M.J. (2008). An Examination of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act as Applied to Juveniles: Evaluating the Ability to Predict Sexual Recidivism. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 14 (2), 89-114.

The paper reports the findings of an analysis of the sex offender registration. This is in light of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which is expected to increase and standardize juvenile sex offender registration in the U.S. The study uses a sample of 92 juvenile males who have been found guilty of sex offenses and 174 juvenile males who despite having not been found guilty of sex offenses have several risk measures. Upon admission to treatment the sample was assessed using the Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version. Several tools were coded from the Juvenile Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2006. The study followed the participants for 71.6 months to determine their behavior in relation to sexual offenses.  The research showed inconsistencies in the recidivism of juvenile sex offenders.

Grover, A. (2013). Delinquency and Punishment: The Impact of State v. Williams on Juvenile Sex Offender Registration in Ohio. University of Cincinnati Law Review, 81(1), 291-311.

The aim of juvenile justice is to ensure that juveniles who commit crimes are not treated as adults who engage in similar crimes. The article undertakes an analysis of juvenile justice. It details the impact of State v. Williams, a landmark case on juvenile justice, on the future of juvenile justice. The case ruled that the juvenile justice system should rehabilitate juvenile offenders instead of punishing them. Prior to the ruling the juvenile justice system was mainly punitive.

Hunter, J. (1999). Understanding Juvenile Sexual Offender Behavior: Emerging Research Treatment and Management Practices. Washington, DC: Center for Sex Offender Management.

The paper undertakes a critical analysis of various issues related to juvenile sexual offending behavior. The article begins with an analysis of the characteristics of juvenile sexual abuse and its effects. It also details methods of treating sexually abusive youth to become law abiding members of the society. The paper also details various policy development issues. As such, the paper is rich in information that would help in undertaking this research.

Hunter, J.A. & Figueredo, J.A. (1999). Factors Associated with Treatment Compliance in a Population of Juvenile Sexual Offenders, Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 11 (1), 49-67.

To reduce recidivism of juvenile sexual offenders it is vital for relevant authorities to ensure that they undertake measures that help in improving compliance of juveniles to various treatment programs. The paper analyses the factors associated with treatment compliance among juveniles. It uses a sample of 204 male juvenile sex offenders who took part in community-based treatment programs. The research found that client denial was associated with the level of compliance to the program. Lower level of client denial led to increased compliance. The reverse was true. The paper would help in the development of effective treatment programs. This would help in reducing recidivism among juvenile sex offenders.

Juvenile Law Center. (2013). Juvenile Court Judge Finds Pennsylvania Juvenile Sex Offender Registration Law Unconstitutional Under State and Federal Law. Retrieved, September 5, 2014, from  http://www.jlc.org/blog/juvenile-court-judge-finds-pennsylvania-juvenile-sex-offender-registration-law-unconstitutional

Juvenile sex offenders are subjected to different sentences. The sentences vary from one state to another. The article undertakes an analysis of a ruling by a juvenile court judge who determined that the Pennsylvania sex offender registration law to be unconstitutional. According to the law, juvenile sex offenders should be subjected to a lifetime sex offender registration. The court ruled that this law violated their rights. The paper undertakes an analysis of various issues related to sentencing juveniles that would be critical undertaking this research.

Rasmussen, L.A. (1999). Factors Related to Recidivism Among Juvenile Sexual Offenders. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 11 (1), 69-85.

The paper analyses the juvenile court case records of juvenile sex offenders who were first time offenders. The study observes them for a period of five years. It uses various factors to determine their likelihood of committing sexual offenses in the future. The results of the study showed that juvenile sex offenders were more likely to commit sexual offenses in the future if their did not complete treatment.

Trivits, L.C. & Reppucci, D.N. (2002). Application of Megan’s Laws to Juveniles, American Psychologist, 57 (9), 690-704.

The U.S. has treated sexual offenses differently throughout history. The authors undertake a critical analysis of the history of registration and notification statutes related to sexual offenses. They also detail the legal challenges that the statutes have faced. The authors also highlight certain studies that claim that recidivism rate for juvenile sex offenders is lower than that of adults. Therefore, according to the authors, the criminal justice system should treat juvenile sex offenders differently. The viewpoint of the paper would help in improving the discussions in this research.

Vandiver, D.M. (2006). A Prospective Analysis of Juvenile Male Sex Offenders: Characteristics of Recidivism Rates as Adults. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21 (5), 673-688.

The paper undertakes a critical analysis of the recidivism rates 300 registered male juvenile sex offenders. The research follows the juveniles for three to six years to determine their recidivism before they reach their adulthood. The juveniles were generally 15-year old Caucasians. The victims of the sexual offenses were females who averaged 8 years. The duration of the study increases the relevance of the study. This would provide vital information in undertaking the research.

Waite, D., Keller, A., McGarvey, E.L., Wieckowski, E., Pinkerton, R. & Brown, G. (2005). Juvenile Sex Offender Re – Arrest Rates for Sexual, Violent Nonsexual, and Property Crimes: A 10 Year Follow-Up. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 17(3), 313-331.

The paper presents the findings of a 10-year follow up study on the recidivism of juvenile sex offenders who were incarcerated. It provides data for re-arrest rates of the sex offenders. Inclusion of the re-arrest data for the juvenile even when they reach their adulthood helps in improving the relevance of the study. The authors analyze the outcomes of certain treatment programs. This may help in the development of more effective treatment programs.

Wind, T.E. (2003). The Quandary of Megan’s Law: When the Child Sex Offender is a Child, John Marshall Law Review, 37 (1), 73-124.

The article undertakes a critical review of Megan’s Law. Children are usually the victims of sexual offenses. However, in some instances, juveniles may be the perpetrators of sexual offenses. Therefore, it is vital for the criminal justice system to ensure that it takes into consideration various factors when tackling the issue. The Megan’s Law ensures that it takes into consideration various issues surrounding juvenile sexual offenses. The article undertakes a critical analysis of Megan’s law and its impact on the juvenile justice system.

Methodology

This study strives to determine factors that determine recidivism of sexual offenses. It uses delinquents who have committed both sexual and non-sexual offenses. This would help in determining the recidivism rates of sexual, violent, and general crimes among the juvenile delinquents. This would help in determining whether there are differences between recidivism of sexual offenders and juveniles who engage in non-sexual offenses.

The study collected information on 500 male juveniles who had been released from a correctional facility in the past 2 years. 45% of the participants in the study were African-Americans. Whites comprised of 45% of the participants, 3% were Asians, whereas the remaining 2% of the participants were Asians. The average age of the participants during their admission into the correctional facilities was 16 years, whereas the average age of their release was 17 years. 300 of the participants were convicted for engaging in violent sexual conduct whereas 200 were convicted for engaging in non-sexual violent offenses.

The study collected the recidivism data from open records of juvenile delinquents in the state circuit court. The research recorded the original charge of the juveniles. This helped in reducing the effectiveness of the research due to plea bargains, which are common in juvenile offenses. The research defined violent sexual conduct as a criminal activity that involved sexual contact with the victim. On the other hand, non-sexual violence conduct referred to violent conduct that did not involve sexual conduct. Non-sexual violent conduct included robbery, murder, and assault.

Statistical methods used to analyze the data

Content analysis

Content analysis would be used in determining the recidivism of juvenile sex offenders. Content analysis would involve the analysis of written communications on the challenges. It would involve the critical analysis of the underlying themes in various literature that would be analyzed. This would be systematic instead of rigid, which would improve the quality of the findings.

One of the major advantages of using content analysis is that it involves movement back and forth in data collection, analysis, and conceptualization. This helps in providing an explicit analysis of the issues being studied. The process of content analysis in this research was qualitative due to the fact that the issue under investigation was complex. Therefore, it was vital to analyze various cases, perspectives, and examples.

Content analysis may also be qualitative or quantitative. This helps in improving the quality of findings of the research.

One of the disadvantages of content analysis is that it is extremely time consuming. It may also be difficult to automate or computerize.

Coding

Coding refers to the transformation of data into a form that is easily understandable. It involves two major elements. These include the development of a coding schedule and the development of a coding manual. The coding schedule refers to the form in which all data on various items is recorded. On the other hand, the coding manual refers to the instructions to people who use the coding schedule on the categories used to classify texts in the schedule. It helps in providing the basis for the classification of the texts. The coding manual used in the research was both inductive and deductive.

One of the major advantages of coding is that it would help in determining the most relevant data. This would make it easy to analyze the data.

The major disadvantage of coding is that it is difficult to undertake it without making certain assumptions. The assumptions may limit the effectiveness of the research.

Questionnaires

Questions are a form of written interview. They would necessitate the research to formulate certain questionnaires that would help in determining the recidivism of juvenile sex offenders. The major advantage of questionnaires is that they help in collecting a large amount of information within a short period in a cost-effective manner. Questionnaires may also be carried out by any number of people without affecting the validity and reliability of the findings of the research. It is also easy to quantify the results of the questionnaires.

The major limitation of questionnaires is that it is difficult to determine whether the respondents are telling the right information or not. The respondents may not also understand the questionnaires correctly. This may make them provide the wrong responses. Questionnaires may also make the researcher ask a limited number of questions, this limits the amount of information that may be derived from the questionnaires. Questionnaires do not also provide an explanation of the reasons the respondents responded in a certain manner. This would limit the effectiveness of the research.

In undertaking the research, coding was the most effective method of analyzing the data. This is due to the fact that the case study method was used in the research. Coding helped in classification of the data. This would make it easy to analyze the results of the study.

Conclusion

For a society to function efficiently it is vital for everybody to abide by certain laws. The criminal justice system is to ensure that people abide by the laws of the laws. It issues punishments to people who violate the laws of the land. However, in issuing the penalties, it is vital for the criminal justice system to consider whether the people violated the laws intentionally or unintentionally. This necessitates the criminal justice system to consider the intellectual capabilities of an individual prior to issuing the sentences. Juveniles do not have the intellectual capacity to know the implications of their decisions. Therefore, the criminal justice system should treat them differently. The policies of the juvenile justice system strive to rehabilitate juveniles who commit various crimes. This enables them to be integrated back into the society. On the other hand, the adult criminal justice system issues punishments that act retribution or measures of deterrence from engaging in criminal activity in the future. Therefore, it is vital for the juvenile justice system to determine factors that drive the juveniles to commit crimes. This would help in reducing rates of recidivism of juveniles.

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