Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Kathleen M. Heide, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Wesley G. Jennings, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Wilson Palacios, Ph.D.


adolescent murderers, post-incarceration recidivism, typology test, sexual murder subsample


Killings by juvenile offenders have been a matter of concern in the United States since the 1980s. Although the rate of juvenile-perpetrated murders has been declining since the 1990s, it remains problematic, in that juvenile offenders account for approximately 10% of all homicide arrests. Research on recidivism of juvenile homicide offenders (JHOs) is important, due to relatively short follow-up periods in prior studies and a recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for juveniles convicted of murder. The present study was designed to explore long-term patterns of recidivism, and particularly violent recidivism, in a sample of 59 male JHOs from a Southeastern state who were prosecuted as adults for murder or attempted murder in the early 1980s, convicted, and sentenced to adult prison. Furthermore, the predictive utility of a juvenile homicide typology was analyzed, and the offenders who committed sexually-oriented murders were examined in-depth. The results indicated that close to 90% of released offenders have been rearrested during the 30-year follow-up period, and more than 60% have been rearrested for violent offenses. Five offenders completed (4 offenders) or attempted (1 offender) a new homicide. Out of 7 variables tested, race emerged as the only significant correlate of post-release violence. Release from prison, post-release arrests, and post-release violent offenses were not significantly related to the circumstances of the index homicide (crime-oriented v. conflict-oriented). The subsample of juvenile sexual homicide offenders (JSHOs) consisted of 8 offenders; 6 of them were released from prison, 4 were rearrested, and 3 were rearrested for violent offenses. None of the released JSHOs were arrested for a homicide or any sexually-related crimes. The implications of the findings for management of JHOs, the comparability of this study to prior studies, and directions for future research are discussed.

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