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Does Contact with the Justice System Influence Situational Action Theory's Causes of Crime? A Study of English and German Juveniles

To explore why system contact often has no crime-preventative effect, the current study examined the effects of juvenile justice contact on Situational Action Theory's (SAT) causes of crime, including personal morals, deviant peer associations, and detection risk perceptions. ...

Published onNov 02, 2022
Does Contact with the Justice System Influence Situational Action Theory's Causes of Crime? A Study of English and German Juveniles
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Does Contact with the Justice System Influence Situational Action Theory's Causes of Crime? A Study of English and German Juveniles
Description

To explore why system contact often has no crime-preventative effect, the current study examined the effects of juvenile justice contact on Situational Action Theory's (SAT) causes of crime, including personal morals, deviant peer associations, and detection risk perceptions. The analysis is based on a sample of English (Peterborough Adolescent and Young Adult Development Study) and German (Crime in the modern City study) juveniles. Propensity score matching was applied to estimate whether the lenient system contacts influenced the causes of crime in the year after the contact. The treatment effect estimates are mostly insignificant and relatively small. The few significant estimates in the English sample suggest that official contact slightly increased deviant peer associations and decreased feelings of moral guilt. Overall, the findings suggest that system contact may often have no crime-preventative effect as it does not (Germany), or only slightly (England) affect SAT's causes of crime. Previous studies, primarily based on the U.S. data, often reported more substantial effects that mostly operated in a crime-amplifying direction. It is speculated whether the less substantial impact in the current study can be attributed to the overall more lenient, diversion-oriented handling of the examined English and German offenders.

 

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