Research on Juvenile Criminal Recidivism

The following is a list of studies that examine recidivism among juvenile criminals. We give summaries of the findings of each study. Juvenile homicide offenders are referred to as JHOs and juvenile sexual homicide offenders are called JSHOs. Much of the information comes from this thesis. Studies are listed by date in descending order.

Thirty Year Follow-Up of Juvenile Homicide Offenders

Citation. Khachatryan, Norair, “Thirty Year Follow-Up of Juvenile Homicide Offenders” (2015). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.


Researchers studied long-term recidivism among juvenile homicide offenders (JHOs). Their sample consisted of 59 male JHOs from a state in the Southeast. All of the JHOs had committed murder or attempted murder and were prosecuted as adults in the early 1980s. Of those who were released, 90% were re-arrested during the 30 year follow-up period. Over 60% were re-arrested for violent offenses. Four of the offenders committed another homicide, while one committed an attempted homicide. 

A subgroup of the sample was juvenile sexual homicide offenders (JSHOs). Of the eight JSHOs in the study, six were released. Four were arrested and three were re-arrested for violent crimes. 

Cliqued Up: The Postincarceration Recidivism of Young Gang-Related Homicide Offenders

Trulson, C.R., Caudill, J.W., Haerle, D.R., & DeLisi, M. (2012). Cliqued up: The

postincarceration recidivism of young gang-related homicide offenders. Criminal Justice

Review, 37 (2), 174-190


In this study, researchers examined whether juveniles who committed gang-related homicides were more likely to recidivate than other types of juvenile offenders (p. 175). They studied 1,804 serious and violent male juvenile offenders, who, between 1987 and 2004, were both incarcerated and released from a large juvenile correctional system in the South (p. 178).
126 were “gang murderers” who were both affiliated with a gang and convicted of gang-related homicides (p. 179) 338 of them were convicted of non-gang-related homicides (p. 180). The latter group was labeled “general homicide offenders”. The results showed that gang murderers were 51.40% more likely to be rearrested after their release than those who were not gang murderers (p. 181). Gang murderers were 89.40% more likely to be re-arrested for a felony. General homicide offenders were 72.10% more likely to be re-arrested for a felony than non-homicide offenders (p. 182).

Recidivism of Juvenile Homicide Offenders

Vries, A.M., & Liem, M. (2011). Recidivism of juvenile homicide offenders. Behavioral

Science and the Law, 29 (4), 483-498.

Vries & Liem, 2011 


In a 2011 study by Vries & Liem, all juveniles convicted of homicide between 1992 and 2007 in the Netherlands (137 JHOs) were examined. The follow-up period ranged from one to 16 years. During that follow-up period, 59% committed post-release offenses. Three % of recidivist offenses were either homicide or attempted homicide. Recidivism was significantly predicted by three static risk factors-being male, lack of self-control, and criminal history. The dynamic risk factors that predicted recidivism were association with delinquent peers and substance abuse. Interestingly, substance abuse decreased the likelihood of recidivism. 

Sexual Sadism, Psychopathy, and Recidivism in Juvenile Sexual Murderers

Citation. Myers, W. C., Chan, H. C. O., Vo, E. J., & Lazarou, E. (2009). Sexual sadism, Psychopathy, and recidivism in juvenile sexual murderers. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 7(10), 49-58. 


Myers, Chan, Vo, and Lazarou examined 22 JSHOs who were tried as adults. Of the sample, nine had been released from prison after their initial homicide. Two had not been caught for the sexual homicide for which they were included in the study. Of the 11 killers who had been released from prison or who had not been caught, six committed additional crimes, including three who committed additional sexually-oriented homicides. Those who recidivate had significantly higher rates of psychopathy than those who did not. The criteria for sexual sadism was met in all of the offenders who committed additional sexual homicides and one of the non-homicide recidivists. Juveniles who had committed sexual murder were at a higher risk of future fatal violence than non-sexual juvenile murderers. 

Criminal Recidivism in Sexual Homicide Perpetrators

Citation. Hill, A., Habermann, N., Klusmann, D., Berner, W., & Briken, P. (2007). Criminal

recidivism in sexual homicide perpetrators. International Journal of Offender Therapy

and Comparative Criminology, 52 (1), 5-20.


Researchers examined 166 German offenders who had committed sexual homicides between 1945 and 1991. 11% of the sample (19 subjects) were under 18 when they committed the crimes. The authors searched through criminal records and provided follow up information on 90 killers who had been released. While none of the JSHOs committed another homicide, they did commit other violent crimes. Researchers found that offenders who committed their first sexual homicide when they were under 21 and offenders who were incarcerated for less than 15 years committed post-release sexual violence at higher rates. Those who committed their first sexual offense as juveniles were more likely than the adults to commit nonsexual violent offenses after being released.

Who’s in, who’s out, and who’s back: follow-up data on 59 juveniles incarcerated in adult prison for murder or attempted murder in the early 1980

Heide, K.M., Spencer, E., Thompson, A., & Solomon, E.P. (2001). Who’s in, who’s out, and who’s Back: Follow-up data on 59 juveniles incarcerated in adult prison for murder or attempted murder in the early 1980s. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 19 (1), 97-108.

Heide, Spencer, Thompson, and Solomon, 2001


Heide, Spencer, Thompson, and Solomon examined the same sample as Khachatryan over a 15-17 year period. 43 of the 59 offenders were released from prison. Of those released, 60% (25 offenders) either were re-committed due to a parole violation or received new prison sentences. Of the recidivists, 80% re-offended within the first three years of release. The authors noted that the recidivism rate was likely higher than reported in the study, as recidivism was determined by whether or not the offenders returned to prison. Some offenders may have recidivated without being caught or sent back to prison. 

An Analysis of Adolescent Perpetrators of Homicide and Attempted Homicide Upon Return to the Community


Hagan, M.P. (1997). An analysis of adolescent perpetrators of homicide and attempted

homicide upon return to the community. International Journal of Offender Therapy and

Comparative Criminology, 41 (3), 250-259


Hagan tracked 20 males who were convicted as juveniles of homicide or attempted homicide and then released back into society in the late 1970s and 1980s. The follow-up time ranged from five years to over 15 years after release. While none of the offenders committed an additional homicide, 60% (12 offenders) recidivated. Of the recidivists, 58% committed more violence. Half of the sample got new prison sentences. There was no difference between homicide offenders and attempted homicide offenders when it came to the likelihood of recidivating. 

Juvenile homicide: Prior adjustment and a proposed typology

Citation. Cornell, D.G., Benedek, E.P., & Benedek, D.M. (1987). Juvenile homicide: Prior adjustment and a proposed typology. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 57 (3), 383-393.


Researchers divided JHOs into three groups: Those in the conflict group (30 offenders), committed murder during an interpersonal dispute; Those in the crime group (37 offenders) committed murder during the commission of a crime, such as robbery or rape; Those in the psychotic group (five offenders) committed homicide while experiencing psychotic symptoms. When compared to conflict offenders, those in the crime group were more likely to have a prior criminal record, substance abuse problems, poor school adjustment, and a lower level of stress before the homicide. The crime oriented killers were concluded to be less amenable to treatment due to higher psychological maladjustment and were more likely to commit additional crimes than conflict JHOs were.