From Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Crime: Criminal Careers, Justice Policy, and Prevention

From Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Crime: Criminal Careers, Justice Policy, and Prevention

From Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Crime: Criminal Careers, Justice Policy, and Prevention

From Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Crime: Criminal Careers, Justice Policy, and Prevention


What makes a juvenile delinquent develop into an adult criminal? What defines-cognitively, developmentally, legally-the transition from juvenile to adult and what determines whether patterns of criminal behavior persist? In most US states and Western nations, legal adulthood begins at age 18. This volume focuses on the period surrounding that abrupt transition (roughly ages 15-29) and addresses what happens to offending careers during it.

Edited by two leading authorities in the fields of psychology and criminology, Transitions from Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Crime examines why the period of transition is important and how it can be better understood and addressed both inside and outside of the justice system. Bringing together over thirty leading scholars from multiple disciplines in both North America and Europe, this volume asks critical questions about criminal careers and causation, and whether current legal definitions of adulthood accurately reflect actual maturation and development. The volume also addresses the current efficacy of the justice system in addressing juvenile crime and recidivism, why and how juveniles ought to be treated differently from adults, if special legal provisions should be established for young adults, and the effectiveness of crime prevention programs implemented during early childhood and adolescence.

With serious scholarly analysis and practical policy proposals, Transitions from Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Crime addresses what can be done to ensure that today's juvenile delinquents do not become tomorrow's adult criminals.


Policy-makers and practitioners are turning to science with increasing frequency to answer tough questions about crime and delinquency and to obtain a better understanding of offender motives. One of the excellent developments in our field over the last decade is an expanded dialogue—more consistently sophisticated and mutually more respectful than past conversations—between researchers and those who apply their discoveries. This development is so important, and so welcome, in grasping the link between youthful delinquency and later criminal behavior. Indeed, few public safety issues cry out for a reconciliation of knowledge and practice more loudly than those relating to the germination, continuation, and cessation of juvenile offending.

In my four decades of policy and academic experience, I’ve observed in the field a fervent hope by many that criminal and juvenile justice practitioners would abandon their reliance on tradition and intuition and turn to research as the foundation for their decisions. I am happy to report that this goal appears closer to reality than in the past. Getting “smart on crime” has become a cri de ctxur of public safety leaders from the Attorney General of the United States to local elected officials and law enforcement leaders. When I launched my Evidence Integration Initiative at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs in 2009, I envisioned a prominent role for the federal government in helping translate the evidence derived from research into criminal and juvenile justice practice. After all, success in applying science, in any field, depends on both developing a solid base of knowledge and communicating the relevance of that knowledge. It is welcome news that practitioners and policy-makers are interested in, and even eager for, information researchers have to share. The scientific community must be prepared to meet this demand, especially in the complicated and politically fraught arena of juvenile justice.

The history of our treatment of young offenders in the United States has followed a changing path, from the early paternalistic juvenile courts to the breakthroughs of In Re Gault in the 1960s and its demands for greater reliance on due process to the trend toward harsh sanctions in the 1990s. Over the last 15 years, breakthroughs in medical and behavioral science, and an understanding of brain development, have yielded solid empirical evidence that should help reverse this backward trend in juvenile justice. Research in developmental psychology documented by the MacArthur Foundation’s Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice, among others, suggests that children and youth have difficulty grasping the consequences and even motives of their own actions, and further . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.