Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Nancy Higgins

Second Advisor

James D. Evans

Third Advisor

Craig Voorhees


It has been theorized that the less formal and penetrating a youngster's contact with the Juvenile Justice System, the smaller his or her likelihood of continued delinquency. Based on this premise, known as labeling theory, the Juvenile Court of St. Charles County established several "diversion " programs to curb delinquent conduct among juvenile offenders.

This thesis was an in-depth study of these programs' effects on recidivism rates among juvenile delinquents. Court records spanning a period of 3 years were reviewed, providing the data for this research. The subjects studied were 15-year-old delinquents treated in one of three diversion programs in 1985, along with a control group.

Results showed that though most juvenile offenders did not reoffend regardless of their treatment, minimal involvement by the Court was associated with escalating delinquency in those who did reoffend, whereas more intensive treatment was associated with lower rates of recidivism.