The Mobility of Youth in the Justice System: Implications for Recidivism

Wolff, Kevin T., Michael T. Baglivio, Jonathan Intravia, Mark A. Greenwald, and Nathan Epps (2017). The Mobility of Youth in the Justice System: Implications for Recidivism. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(7): 1371–1393.

Both residential mobility and community disadvantage have been shown to be associated with negative outcomes for adolescents generally and juvenile offenders specifically. The current study examines the effects of moving among a large sample (n = 13,096) of previously adjudicated youth (31.6 % female, 41.2 % Black, 16.5 % Hispanic). Additionally, we examine whether moving upward to a more affluent neighborhood, moving downward to an area of greater disadvantage, or moving laterally to a similar neighborhood tempers the effects of residential mobility. We use a combination of analytical techniques, including propensity score matching to untangle the effects of mobility sans pre-existing conditions between movers and non-movers. Results show relocation increases recidivism, irrespective of the direction of the move with regard to socioeconomic context. Moving upward has the most detrimental impact for adjudicated male adolescents, while downward relocations evidenced the largest effect for female youth. Implications for policy and future research needs are discussed.