Rational Choice and Developmental Influences on Recidivism Among Adolescent Felony Offenders

34 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2006

See all articles by Jeffrey Fagan

Jeffrey Fagan

Columbia Law School

Alex R. Piquero

University of Texas at Dallas - School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences; Griffith University

Date Written: June 2006

Abstract

Recent law and scholarship has claimed that the developmental limitations of adolescents affect their capacity for control and decision making with respect to crime, diminishing their culpability and reducing their exposure to punishment. Social science has focused on two concurrent adolescent developmental influence: the internalization of legal rules and norms that regulate social and antisocial behaviors, and the development of rational thought to frame behavioral choices and decisions. The interaction of these two developmental processes, and the identification of one domain of socialization and development as the primary source of motivation or restraint in adolescence, is the focus of this paper. Accordingly, we combine rational choice and legal socialization frameworks into an integrated, developmental model of recidivism. We test this framework in a sample of 1,385 adolescent felony offenders who have been interviewed at six month intervals for four years. Using hierarchical and growth curve models, we show that both legal socialization and rational choice factors influence patterns of criminal offending over time. When punishment risks and costs are salient, crime rates are lower over time. We show that procedural justice is a significant antecedent of legal socialization, but not rational choice. We also show that both mental health and developmental maturity moderate the effects of perceived crime risks and costs on criminal offending.

Keywords: crime, rational choice, adolescent development, procedural justice

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Fagan, Jeffrey and Piquero, Alex R., Rational Choice and Developmental Influences on Recidivism Among Adolescent Felony Offenders (June 2006). Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 06-117, 1st Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=914189 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.914189

Jeffrey Fagan (Contact Author)

Columbia Law School ( email )

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212-854-7946 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.columbia.edu/fac/Jeffrey_Fagan

Alex R. Piquero

University of Texas at Dallas - School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences ( email )

800 W. Campbell Road, GR31
Richardson, TX 75080
United States
972-883-2482 (Phone)
972-883-6572 (Fax)

Griffith University

170 Kessels Road
Nathan, Queensland QLD 4111
Australia

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