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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Study finds adult court promotes recidivism

Wisconsin’s tough-on-crime policy of placing 17-year-old criminal offenders in adult court is a failed experiment that only increases the likelihood the teens will commit more crimes, according to a study released Tuesday.

The study by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families also finds racial bias in the policy's implementation, citing statistics showing that African-American youth are far more likely to be incarcerated than white youths.

"It's become increasingly clear that trying youth as adults does not make communities safer," said Charity Eleson, executive director of WCCF, which describes itself as a nonpartisan child and family advocacy organization. "In fact, it appears to have the opposite effect."

The study looked at 1,000 17-year-old offenders with cases beginning Jan. 1, 2001. Their files were then reviewed through Sept. 1.

According to the study:

• Some 70% of the teens were later convicted of another crime.

• The highest recidivism rate - 80% - was found among teens who received jail sentences. [Mark Godsey]

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