SAGE Journals

Community sanctions in youth justice compared to other youth crime responses: A meta-analysis

Posted on 2021-08-03 - 00:06

This meta-analysis examines the official recidivism effects of two types of community sanctions in youth justice, namely community service and behavioural intervention programmes. Two analyses were conducted: a comparison between the effects of community sanctions and custodial sanctions, versus a comparison between the effects of community sanctions and dismissals. Following a systematic literature search, data extraction and analysis, mean effect sizes were calculated utilizing (log) odds ratio as the main effect measure. To explore heterogeneity, a meta-regression was conducted with four moderator variables: methodological rigour, referral stage, main focus of sanction and sample risk level. The hypotheses were that recidivism would be significantly lower for delinquent youth subject to community sanctions compared with those subject to custodial sanctions, but that differences in recidivism between delinquent youth subject to community sanctions versus dismissals would be insignificant. In total, 23 studies were deemed eligible for inclusion (Ncust = 7, Ndism = 16). Final results were in favour of the hypotheses, namely, significantly lower recidivism rates for community sanctions compared with custodial sanctions, and no significant differences for community sanctions compared with dismissals. For both comparisons, the 95% confidence interval indicated the effects varied from just below zero to substantially in favour of community sanctions. Finally, moderator analysis revealed that studies of lower methodological quality and mixed referral stages were more likely to report larger effect sizes.


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