Revisiting the Neighborhood: A Spatial Analysis of Community Organizations and Juvenile Recidivism in the Urban Southwest
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 11/25/2020
AbstractIt is well documented that characteristics of residential neighborhoods shape the lives of residents in ways that can perpetuate or alleviate inequality. One compelling but comparably understudied explanation for these “neighborhood effects” is that organizations in the neighborhood shape the opportunities and constraints residents face. A small body of work has examined neighborhood contributors to adult repeat offending and scholars have called for more work on the role of organizations in offender recidivism. Surprisingly, no prior research has examined whether spatial proximity to community organizations influences the likelihood that juvenile offenders will repeat offend despite theories of juvenile delinquency that suggest local institutions generate social and formal control that, in turn, may influence delinquent behavior. To fill this gap, I examined seven types of organizations theorized to influence recidivism serving as risk enhancers or risk reducers in a juvenile’s neighborhood. I conducted tract-level and individual-level analysis in the Phoenix-urbanized area using point-level geolocated data on organizations and juvenile offenders who completed diversion or probation supervision with Maricopa County Juvenile Probation in 2007. Spatial regression models indicated there were more organizations per capita in census tracts with higher socioeconomic disadvantage across the metropolitan area, rather than a negative association as predicted. However, descriptive maps indicated a spatial mismatch between juvenile offenders and resources; reentering youthful offenders were largely located in areas lacking socioeconomic and organizational resources in select suburbs and communities just outside the urban core. Using Cox proportional hazard models, I also examined the influence of aggregate neighborhood disadvantage and the number of organizations accessible within walking distance of a juvenile’s approximate residential address on their likelihood of subsequent recidivism, net of individual characteristics. My results were mixed and modest and did not provide strong support for the general predictions of social disorganization theory. Rather than exerting uniform risk enhancing or risk reducing effects, the influence of nearby organizations on repeat offending varied by juvenile population and type of recidivism (any, status/public peace, property, violent/drug). Neighborhood disadvantage enhanced the risk of a new property offending but was unrelated to other types of repeat offending. However, this relationship was largely accounted for by proximity to the total number of organizations lending support to a routine activities approach for property offense behavior. Findings indicated that public parks, middle and high schools, libraries and community centers, civic/membership/voluntary establishments, and detention/police facilities influenced recidivism risk for status/public peace and violent/drug infractions, but the direction and significance of these effects varied by juvenile population. Together, this research suggests organizations are not inconsequential, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Successful integration of organizational measures into neighborhood effects research warrants greater specificity in the types of organizations, resident population, and specific behaviors or outcomes modeled.
Degree ProgramGraduate College