Youth justice: criminal trajectories

Criminology Research Council grant ; (22/01-02)

The youth justice criminal trajectories research project used data from the Queensland Department of Families, the Queensland Police Service and the Queensland Department of Corrective Services to determine the extent to which juveniles on supervised orders in 1994-95 progressed to the adult corrections system. The results showed that a significant proportion of the research cohort progressed to the adult corrections system and that multiple factors increased the risk of progression. Risk factors included gender, Indigenous status and the presence of a care and protection order.

The key findings of the project were:

  • by September 2002, 79 per cent of those juveniles on supervised orders in 1994-95 had progressed to the adult corrections system and 49 per cent had been subject to at least one term of imprisonment;
  • by September 2002, 89 per cent of male Indigenous juveniles on supervised orders in 1994-95 had progressed to the adult corrections system, with 71 per cent having served at least one prison term;
  • by September 2002, 91 per cent of the juveniles who had been subject to a care and protection order, as well as a supervised justice order, had progressed to the adult corrections system with 67 per cent having served at least one term of imprisonment; and
  • over time, the probability of those juveniles on supervised orders in 1994-95 who are subject to multiple risk factors, (that is, male, Indigenous, care and protection order) progressing to the adult corrections system will closely approach 100 per cent.

The very high rate of progression from juvenile supervised orders to the adult corrections system means it is reasonable to question the adequacy and appropriateness of our current responses to juvenile offending. The results showed a clear need for multidisciplinary interagency interventions that address the precursors to juvenile offending and help established offenders desist from further offending. These responses will need to involve a wide range of government departments - some of which may not immediately see their core business as incorporating a crime prevention dimension - such as housing, education, health, police, families, treasury, public amenities and transport.