For the first time, Missouri's courts have a way to evaluate the effectiveness of the tools they use to meet the supervision and program needs of juvenile offenders, says the St. Louis American. The lack of a standardized definition of recidivism prevented courts from being able to evaluate systematically the actual impact of the programs they use. A new state report gives a standardized definition of recidivism as well as the first analysis of re-offense rates for Missouri's juvenile offenders and the factors that influence those rates.
Missouri is one of only a few states currently publishing this type of information on an annual basis. The factors with the greatest impact on whether the juvenile would re-offend included whether he or she had one or more prior referrals to the juvenile system, especially if thereferrals were for assault; had a history of placement outside the home, was between 13 and 15 when first referred to the juvenile system; had a moderate or severe substance-abuse problem, and had below-average or failing academic performance.