CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, July 17, 2015

Stevenson on The Path to Criminality in Juvenile Jails

Megan Stevenson (Quattrone Center- University of Pennsylvania Law School) has posted Breaking Bad: Mechanisms of Social Influence and the Path to Criminality in Juvenile Jails on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Using rich data on youths in juvenile correctional facilities, I conduct a series of tests of peer influence on future crime motivated by three mechanisms: criminal skill transfer, the formation of new criminal networks, and the social contagion of crime-oriented attitudes and behavioral habits. Identifying peer influence off of natural variation in small cohorts within the same facility, I find evidence consistent with the social contagion mechanism: exposure to peers who come from unstable homes and who have behavioral/emotional problems leads to a large increase in crime after release, as well as an increase in crime-oriented non-cognitive factors. I also find evidence consistent with persistent network formation, but only in settings which unite youths from the same local area. Multiple tests of the identifying assumptions support the causal argument.

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