In a report released Tuesday by the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission, Luzerne County is in line with the state average recidivism rate for juveniles who are likely to commit a second crime.
According to the report, one in five juveniles – 20 percent - committed another crime within two years of their 2007 case being closed; Luzerne County had a rate of 21 percent.
The study used cases closed in 2007 and tracked the following two years because they were cases not affected by a newly implemented Juvenile Justice System Enhancement Strategy – an effort to reduce the rate of recidivism. The strategy began in 2010.
According to the report, 390 juveniles from Luzerne County made up the 21 percent of cases closed in 2007 due to a degree of guilt, by either being found guilty, pleading guilty or entering a no-contest plea.
Of those, 81 committed another crime over the two-year period.
“Juvenile crime is a serious problem in the United States,” the report states. “Not only does it affect the quality of life for our communities’ citizens, it also produces a financial burden for society.”
The report also states that through research and evidence, a strong relationship exists between juvenile offenders eventually becoming adult offenders.
In 2007, 18,882 juveniles had been under the supervision of a county juvenile probation department and had their cases closed after completing required conditions. Within two years, the report states, 3,827 juveniles were either found guilty or convicted of a new misdemeanor or felony offense.
The factors looked at in the report of those juveniles that committed another crime included age, gender, race/ethnicity, drug/alcohol abuse, family factors, school factors, peer factors and involvement in the juvenile justice system.
Clarion County had the highest recidivism rate – 45 percent – while two counties had no recidivism rate – Clinton and Sullivan counties, according to the report.
Other counties similar in size to Luzerne, classified as Class 3 counties, had about the same or a little higher recidivism rates, ranging from 28 percent to 10 percent.
The report also outlines that the average length of time it took a juvenile to commit another crime was 11.5 months and that those juveniles who were youngest during their first offense were more likely to commit a second offense.
The report stresses not to compare recidivism rates of individual counties or individual service providers due to the impact of expunged cases and other factors. An expungement is when a first-time offender can have his or her criminal record wiped clean after a certain time period.