Background About 150–200 ‘Placement in an Institution for Juveniles Orders’ (PIJ orders) are imposed each year in the Netherlands. Many of the young people under these orders have mental disorders or ‘threatened psychological development’ and are thought to be at high risk of recidivism. There are no previous studies of the range of judicial, correctional or psychiatric contacts after the PIJ order, but this could extend understanding of any links between post-treatment psychological development of these young offenders and their reoffending or desistence from it.
Aims To examine reoffending and judicial, correctional or psychiatric contacts of juveniles after a PIJ order, any relationship between seriousness of the index offence and first reoffence, and to test the hypothesis that ‘threatened psychological development’ is associated with higher recidivism rates.
Methods A records-based follow-up study of a 9-year (1995–2003) national release cohort of 781 Dutch juvenile offenders finishing a PIJ order under the Juvenile Entrustment Act. Descriptive statistics were used to show patterns of reoffending and the reoffending and non-reoffending groups compared.
Results The mean length of the PIJ order was 2.5 years, and mean time subsequently at risk for offending was 83.5 months (range 51–135 months). After treatment under a PIJ order, serious criminal offending was reduced by 50%, and there was a trend towards less serious property offences. Contrary to prediction, ‘threatened psychological development’ was not associated with worse outcomes.
Conclusions The data offer support for the value of the PIJ order. The recidivism rate remains high, and although the trend to less serious offending is encouraging, the findings raise questions about whether criminogenic needs are sufficiently met. By contrast, the apparently low rates of adult mental disorder, even among those regarded as having had ‘threatened psychological development’, suggest that PIJ institutions are doing a good job with respect to mental health. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd