Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 46, Issue 7, pp 1371–1393 | Cite as

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

  • Kevin T. WolffEmail author
  • Michael T. Baglivio
  • Jonathan Intravia
  • Mark A. Greenwald
  • Nathan Epps
Empirical Research


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.


Residential mobility Recidivism Juvenile offenders 


Authors’ Contributions

KW conceived of the project and its design, drafted a significant portion of the manuscript, designed the study methodology, and performed the statistical analyses. MB drafted a significant portion of the manuscript, participated in the design of study methodology, and participated in cleaning the data and creating appropriate measures. JI drafted significant portions of the manuscript, participated in the design of study methodology, and consulted on statistical analysis. MG provided both assistance with drafting of the manuscript, editorial support, provided insight into the juvenile justice system, procured the data, obtained approval for use of the data, and provided input into appropriate analysis of the data. NE cleaned the data, combined data from multiple sources, geo-coded the data, and provided editorial support. All authors read, edited, and approved the final manuscript.


Support for this project was provided by a PSC-CUNY Award, jointly funded by The Professional Staff Congress and The City University of New York.

Conflicts of interest

The authors report no conflict of interests.

Ethical Standards

Approval for this project was acquired from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Institutional Review Board as well as the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Institutional Review Board.

Informed Consent

As the project involved only secondary data analysis from official sources, there was no need for informed consent.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.John Jay College of Criminal JusticeNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.G4S Youth Services, LLCTampaUSA
  3. 3.Ball State UniversityMuncieUSA
  4. 4.Florida Department of Juvenile JusticeTallahasseeUSA

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