Data emerging from a seven years’ study of young offenders suggest that the nature of a serious juvenile crime or the length of time served for it, does not do a very good job predicting if a youth will re-offend. “Burglars are not all the same, neither are car thieves or assaulters,” said Edward Mulvey, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. “Just because they’ve done a certain type of offense doesn’t mean they’re on a particular path to continued high offending or more serious offending.”
Mulvey is principal investigator on the Pathways to Desistance study, which followed some 1,300 youths convicted of mostly felony offenses in Phoenix and Philadelphia for seven years after adjudication. Analyses are now being published. “The way you code a presenting offense, you can do it violent or not violent, property or not property, you can do it a lot of ways; it never comes out as a real strong predictor of outcome,” Mulvey said, explaining some of his latest analysis.