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Early Identification of the Serious Habitual Juvenile Offender Using a Birth Cohort in Philadelphia, 1958-1984

Metadata Updated: November 28, 2023

Beginning in the mid-1980s, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) funded the creation of Habitual Offender Units (HOUs) in 13 cities. HOUs were created to prosecute habitual juvenile offenders by deploying the most experienced attorneys to handle these cases from start to finish. By targeting the earliest points in the career sequence of the juvenile offenders, the greatest number of serious offenses can potentially be averted. Selection criteria to qualify for priority prosecution by an HOU usually encompassed one or more generic components relating to aspects of a juvenile's present and prior offense record. In Philadelphia, to be designated a serious habitual offender and to qualify for priority prosecution by the HOU, a youth had to have two or more prior adjudications or open cases for specific felonies, as well as a current arrest for a specified felony. The first three police contacts in a Philadelphia juvenile offender's record were of special interest because they included the earliest point (i.e., the third contact) at which a youth could be prosecuted in the Philadelphia HOU, under their selection criteria. The main objectives of this study were to determine how well the selection criteria identified serious habitual offenders and which variables, reflecting HOU selection criteria, criminal histories, and personal characteristics, were most strongly and consistently related to the frequency and seriousness of future juvenile and young adult offending. To accomplish this, an assessment was conducted using a group of juveniles born in 1958 whose criminal career outcomes were already known. Applying the HOU selection criteria to this group made it possible to determine the extent to which the criteria identified future habitual offending. Data for the analyses were obtained from a birth cohort of Black and white males born in 1958 who resided in Philadelphia from their 10th through their 18th birthdays. Criminal careers represent police contacts for the juvenile years and arrests for the young adult years, for which police contacts and arrests are synonymous. The 40 dependent variables were computed using 5 different criminal career aspects for 4 crime type groups for 2 age intervals. The data also contain various dummy variables related to prior offenses, including type of offense, number of prior offenses, disposition of the offenses, age at first prior offense, seriousness of first prior offense, weapon used, and whether it was a gang-related offense. Dummy variables pertaining to the current offenses include type of offense, number of crime categories, number of charges, number of offenders, gender, race, and age of offenders, type of intimidation used, weapons used, number of crime victims, gender, race, and age of victims, type of injury to victim, type of victimization, characteristics of offense site, type of complainant, and police response. Percentile of the offender's socioeconomic status is also provided. Continuous variables include age at first prior offense, age at most recent prior offense, age at current offense, and average age of victims.

Access & Use Information

Public: This dataset is intended for public access and use. License: us-pd

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Metadata Created Date August 18, 2021
Metadata Updated Date November 28, 2023

Metadata Source

Harvested from DOJ JSON

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date August 18, 2021
Metadata Updated Date November 28, 2023
Publisher National Institute of Justice
Identifier 2786
Data First Published 1998-10-15T00:00:00
Language eng
Data Last Modified 2008-04-04T09:17:04
Public Access Level public
Bureau Code 011:21
Metadata Context
Metadata Catalog ID
Schema Version
Catalog Describedby
Harvest Object Id f1a86de0-e7d9-48af-a8f9-f022dbd74b3c
Harvest Source Id 3290e90a-116f-42fc-86ac-e65521ef3b68
Harvest Source Title DOJ JSON
Program Code 011:060
Publisher Hierarchy Office of Justice Programs > National Institute of Justice
Source Datajson Identifier True
Source Hash 8fde7fda391bd58d8127a5b5e840e7ea26f3ce07783eaaf132c8dfdc0ecc106c
Source Schema Version 1.1

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