Early Adult Offending and Employment among Serious Adolescent Offenders: An Examination of Adolescent Service Receipt, Attachments, and Perceptions

  • JoAnn S. Lee



This study examines whether service experiences, attachments, and perceptions of the legal system are related to early adult outcomes for serious adolescent offenders. This study also examines how individual and social contextual factors are related to previous service experiences among these adolescent offenders.


Data from the Pathways to Desistance study, a longitudinal study following 1354 serious adolescent offenders from two geographic locations, were used to identify factors related to youth service experiences, and to test whether these service experiences, youth attachments, and youth perceptions were related to adult self-reported offending and employment outcomes.


Youth from more disadvantaged social contexts were more likely to report previous service receipt at baseline. While group service receipt was related to a higher likelihood of adult offending, residential service receipt was related to a lower likelihood of employment. Youth attachments were positively related to employment in adulthood, whereas youth perceptions (cynicism) were positively related to self-reported offending in adulthood.


Positive attachments were related to positive adult outcomes (i.e., employment), while negative perceptions were related to negative outcomes (i.e., offending). Serious adolescent offenders have a complex set of needs across social contexts. This may suggest that a holistic approach to studying and serving juvenile delinquents would include a broad range of outcomes, and that effective services should also be complex in addressing not only the individual, but also the challenges within their social contexts.


Juvenile justice Services Desistance Attachments Youth perceptions Employment 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social WorkGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA

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