Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Sociology and Rural Studies

First Advisor

Robert D. Mendelsohn


This research investigates the following problem: What combination of factors, associated with delinquency, best differentiates first time offenders from recidivists? This problem is important because of the impact juvenile crime has on society. For instance, Ferdinand and Cavan estimate that juvenile delinquency costs the country a billion dollars a year. In fact, in 1971 auto thefts and larcenies committed by juveniles caused losses of three hundred and seventy-four million dollars (Carney, 1979:218). As will be evidenced through a rev1ew of relevant literature, this problem is one social phenomenon that is of interest both to the sociologist and to the practitioner within the criminal justice arena. Sociologists are concerned with establishing, through verifiable evidence, general patterns or regularities underlying the social phenomenon of crime. This study seeks to unravel factors underlying the delinquency of juveniles in Brookings County, South Dakota and attempts to show that there are regularities in factors that contribute to a juvenile's delinquency. At the level of their every day experience, practitioners frequently encounter situations in which the offenses are committed by recidivists . To aid the practitioner in his or her mission, it is necessary to understand in a systematic way what factors are associated with recidivism and non-recidivism. If it can be demonstrated that a given set of factors occur more frequently among recidivists compared to one time offenders, then a model to predict recidivism could be developed. Such a model might serve as a diagnostic and planning tool. The model could be employed diagnostically, because the factors that have the most influence on a juvenile offender would be known. Planners would be able to develop programs geared to the first time offender who is most influenced by these various known factors so that a juvenile could be helped before becoming a recidivist. If specific juveniles can be guided away from a cycle of crime, then it should be possible to make an inroad into state and national crime rates for serious offenses. Recalling that juveniles contribute substantially to such rates, it is important to note that even a statistically small reduction in juvenile rates could produce an important effect on the aggregated incidence of crime.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Recidivists -- South Dakota -- Brookings County
Juvenile delinquents -- South Dakota -- Brookings County



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University