No. III (1965)

Prediction studies on juvenile recidivists

Zofia Ostrihanska
Institute of Law Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Published 1965-01-01


  • criminology,
  • recidivist,
  • juvenile,
  • delinquent

How to Cite

Ostrihanska, Z. (1965). Prediction studies on juvenile recidivists. Archives of Criminology, (III), 121–281.


Predictions of recidivism may be formulated solely in categories of probability. In predicting human behaviour it is impossible to take account and to control all factors that influence it. Causal relationships and the general laws that explain it are still largely unknown and generally the data available on the subject are incomplete. It is therefore necessary to expect that there may be disagreement between predicted and actual behaviour. Predictions of recidivism may be formulated solely in categories of probability. In predicting human behaviour it is impossible to take account and to control all factors that influence it. Causal relationships and the general laws that explain it are still largely unknown and generally the data available on the subject are incomplete. It is therefore necessary to expect that there may be disagreement between predicted and actual behaviour.

Nonetheless, despite these reservations, individual predictions of recidivism of juvenile delinquents are to all practical purposes a constant factor in the decisions of the law courts. The essential problem therefore is not whether it is possible to make individual predictions, where there is always a chance of error, but how to arrive at predictions a large proportion of which will be correct.

Literature in the field of criminology devoted to this subject distinguishes the statistical and clinical methodes of prediction. These two methods were studied by the Department of Criminology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The object of the study was to investigate a number of questions that were raised by research conducted in other countries on the Department's own empirical material.Below are given the problems related to the subject of clinical predictions:

1. Since clinical predictions play an important role in present practice it was advisable to learn to what extent the predictions made in our study were correct as regards juvenile recidivism.

2. It was equally important to discover how a given prediction was justified, what factors are considered significant in predictions made in individual cases.

3. It was resolved to make a study of the subjective aspects of clinical predictions: whether persons who received the same education and professional training tend to make the same predictions regarding the same juveniles? Whether predictions made by different persons for two groups of juveniles will prove to be accurate in the same extent?

Problems of statistical predictions were related to the following questions:

1. Whether the predictive factors established in the projects carried out in other countries have any bearing in the predictions relating to juvenile delinquents in Poland?

2. It was resolved that predictive factors found in one group would be incorporated into the experimental prediction table and used in making predictions for another group. It was further resolved to check-up on the correctness of the predictions. In constructing the experimental prediction table the goal was not to construct a table designed for practical use but on the basis of our own experiments to identify the problems that arise when using a prediction table.

3. Special importance was attached to a careful analysis of cases where the predictions made with the aid of the table were incorrect.

The research planned according to these guidelines was conducted in two stages.

In the first stage clinical predictions were made and experimental prediction table was constructed for a representative sample of 15 and 16 year old recidivists of Warsaw. In the second stage data was tested on a new sample of 15 and 16 year old recidivists and instances were analyzed where the statistical predictions proved incorrect.

The initial research embraced 100 recidivists of 15 and 16 years of age out of 202 recidivists, of the entife population of juvenile recidivists who in 1954 came before the juvenile court of Warsaw on charges of larceny and who were embraced by earlier research on juvenile recidivism conducted by the Department of Criminology. The earlier research yielded data on the after-conduct of the recidivists studied that covered a span of three years. It was established that 51 per cent of them commited offences in the follow-up period.

First of all the clinical predictions on the 100 recidivists were based on the findings of environmental as well as psychological and medical examinations and without knowledge of the findings of the follow-up studies. Two psychologists who had experience in criminological studies made predictions for each of the 100 recidivists. The psychologists were not in touch with each other and did not estabiish joint criteria beforehand. Good behaviour was predicted if it was assumed that the recidivist would not commit any offences in the future, bad predictions were made if the feeling was that he could commit offences and uncertain if no definite decision was reached. If the two psychologists differed in their predictions they would discuss the subject and try to arrive at a consensus.

The predictions made in this manner shaped up as follows: 18 per cent were good, 57 per cent bad and 25 per cent uncertain. There was a significant statistical relationship between the predictions and the commission or non-commission of offences in the course of the next three years by the 100 recidivists studied that may be expressed by a level of significance of p < 0.001. The bad predictions were correct in 70 per cent of the cases, the good in 83 per cent. Thus an overwhelming proportion of the predictions was correct and the proportiorr of uncertain predictions (25 per cent) inconsiderable.

The problem arises what part do subjective factors play in the clinical predictions made by two different persons? Two separate predictions regarding the same juvenile agreed in 70 per cent of the cases. Greater agreement was found in the bad predictions (77 per cent) than in the uncertain (60 per cent) and the good (61 per cent) predictions. Moreover, there were large differences in the reasons given for the predictions issued to the same individual. The two psychologists frequently listed different factors in arriving at the same decisions.

A great many factors were listed as reasons for the predictions which, based on an analysis of data relating to the individual cases, seemed to bear significantly upon the predictions regarding the juveniles studied. Among those mentioned were envinonmental factors, personality traits, demonstration of antisocial behaviour and information about the offences committed.

The next step in the first stage of the project focused on statistical predictions. A study was made of the relationship between 23 factors and the behaviour of the 100 recidivists of 15 and 16 years of age under study over a span of three years. Account was taken of factors which were found significant in the prediction of juvenile recidivism by the research conducted in other countries and of factors which were seemed significant to the problem in the study of juvenile recidivism in Poland.

It was established that a significant statistical relationship existed between the following factors and the continued antisocial behaviour of the subjects under study: 1) early age (below 11) of the onset of symptoms of demoralization, 2) early age of onset of antisocial behaviour (below 13), 3) persistent stealing, 4) membership in a group of delinquents or keeping bad company, 5) personality disorders, 6) drinking, 7) running away from home, B) Iack of schooling or work.

The findings indicate that the early age of the onset of antisocial behaviour and the far-gone demoralization of the juvenile are important factors in predicting recidivism. However, no relationship was found, and this seemed strange and called for explanation, between recidivism and any of the factors that characterized the family environment. This contrasted with the findings of the previous study that embraced all the juvenile recidivists between the ages of 8 and. 16. The oldest of these were included in the present study.

In order to find an explanation for the disparity an additional study, one that was not initially planned, was made of the 28 factors and their relationship to recidivism that continued over a period of three years among the youngest of the recidivists studied at an earlier time in the Department of Criminology. Toward this end 68 of the youngest subjects between the ages of 8 and 13 were isolated from the whole population of recidivists ranging from 8 to 16 years of age.

It was found that the following factors had a statistically significant relationship with continued recidivism in the younger age group: 1) alcoholism in the family, 2) the home atmosphere, 3) lack of supervision by parents, 4) systematic truancy, b) early age of first symptoms of demoralization, 6) early age of first offences, 7) membership in a delinquent group, B) personaiitv disorders. Consequently, a slighty different set of factors ought to be taken into account when making predictions for younger recidivists.

Environmental factors of the home are far more significant in predictions for younger delinquents. In older delinquents it was totally immaterial whether they came from a good or a bad home environment as far as predictions were concerned. A good home which had failed to guard a child of up to 15 and 16 years of age from becoming a delinquent couId handły guard the child against recidivism. In younger delinquents a good lamily atmosphere, excellent supervision, absence of alcoholism all are positive predictive factors. Younger juveniles are still highly responsive to the influence of the home and careful supervision may guard them against further demoralization.

Our research substantiated the thesis that research on the prediction of juvenile recidivism ought to be conducted separately for narrow and strictly defined age levels. The age of the subject at the time the prediction is made is an important factor that must be kept in view.


  1. Allport G., The Use of Personal Documents in Psychological Science, Social Science Research Council, New York 1942.
  2. Ames L.B., Metraux R.W., Walker R.N., Adolescent Rorschach Responses, P.B. Hoeber, New York 1959.
  3. Amsterdamski S., O obiektywnych interpretacjach pojęcia prawdopodobieństwa [w:] S. Amsterdamski, Z. Augustynek, W. Mejbaum, Prawo, konieczność, prawdopodobieństwo, Książka i Wiedza, Warszawa 1964.
  4. An Experiment in the Validation of the Glueck Prediction Scale. Progress report from November, 1952 to December, 1956, New York City Youth Board, Research Department, New York 1957.
  5. Anastasi A., Psychological Testing, Macmillan, New York 1957.
  6. Andry G., Delinquency and Parental Pathology. A Study in Forensic and Clinical Psychology, Methuen & Co, London 1960.
  7. Baan P.A.H., Causes of Recidivism [w:] Summary of proceedings. Third International Congress on Criminology, Bedford College, London. 12th-18th September, 1955, International Society for Criminology, London 1957.
  8. Ball J.C., Social Deviancy and Adolescent Personality, University of Kentucky Press, Kentucky 1962.
  9. Balogh J.K., Juvenile delinquency proneness, „Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology” 1958, t. 48.
  10. Batawia S., Proces społecznego wykolejania się nieletnich przestępców, Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, Warszawa 1958.
  11. Black B.J., Glick S.J., Recidivism at the Hawthorne Cedar Knolls School. Predicted Vs. Actual Outcome for Delinquent Boys, Jewish Board of Guardians, New York 1952.
  12. Blaser A., Rückfall und Bewährung straffälliger Jugendlicher in Kanton Luzern, P. Haupt, Bern 1963.
  13. Borel E., Prawdopodobieństwo i pewność, Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, Warszawa 1962.
  14. Burgess E.W., Factors Determining Success or Failure on Parole [w:] A.A. Bruce, E.W. Burgess, A.J. Harno, J. Landesco, Parole and the Indeterminate Sentence, Illinois State Board of Parole, 1928.
  15. Burgess E.N., Symposium on the Gluecks’ latest research, „Federal Probation” 1961, t. 15, nr 1.
  16. Burgess E.W., Cottrell L.S., Predicting Success or Failure in Marriage, Prentice Hall, New York 1939.
  17. Caldwel M.G., Personality Trends in Youthful Male Offender, „Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology” 1959, t. 49.
  18. Cambridge-Sommerville Youth Study, New York 1951.
  19. Capwell D.F., Personality patterns of adolescent girls, II: delinquents and non-delinquents, „Journal of Applied Psychology” 1945, t. 29.
  20. Christie N., Unge norske lowowertredere, Oslo-Bergen 1960.
  21. Craig M.M., Glick S.J., Ten years’ experience with the Glueck Social Prediction Table, „Crime and Delinquency” 1963, t. 9, nr 3.
  22. Dinitz S., Kay B., Self concept as an insulator against delinquency, „American Sociological Review” 1956, t. 21.
  23. Frey E., Der Frühkriminelle Rückfallsverbrecher, „Schweizerische Kriminalistische Studie”, t. 4, Verlag für Recht und Gesellschaft, Basel 1951.
  24. Geerds F., Zur kriminellen Prognose, „Monatsschrift für Kriminologie und Strafrechtsreform” 1960, nr 3-4.
  25. Gerecke W., Zur Frage der Rückfallprognose, „Monatsschrift für Kriminalbiologie und Strafrechtsreform” 1939, t. 30.
  26. Glueck E.T., Efforts to identify delinquents, „Federal Probation” 1960, t. 24.
  27. Glueck E.T., Toward improving of identification of delinquents, „Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology” 1963, t. 54.
  28. Glueck S., Ten Years of „Unraveling Juvenile Delinquency and Examination of Criticisms” [w:] S. Glueck, E. Glueck, Ventures in Criminology, Tavistock, London 1964.
  29. Glueck S., Glueck E., Predicting Delinquency and Crime, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 1959.
  30. Glueck S., Glueck E., Unraveling Juvenile Delinquency, Commonwealth Fund, New York 1950.
  31. Glueck S., Glueck E.T., 500 Criminal Careers, A.A. Knopf, New York 1930.
  32. Glueck S., Glueck E.T., Later Criminal Careers, Commonwealth Fund, New York 1934.
  33. Glueck S., Glueck E.T., After-Conduct of Discharged Offenders. A Report to the Department, London 1945.
  34. Glueck S., Glueck E.T., Criminal Careers in Retrospect, Commonwealth Fund, New York 1943.
  35. Glueck S., Glueck E.T., Juvenile Delinquents Grown Up, Kraus, New York 1940.
  36. Glueck S., Glueck E.T., One Thousand Juvenile Delinquents, Kraus Reprint, Cambridge 1934.
  37. Grünhut M., wypowiedź na sympozjum w sprawie metod prognostycznych, „British Journal of Delinquency” 1955, t. 6, nr 2.
  38. Grygier T., Leisure pursuits of juvenile delinquents, „British Journal of Delinquency” 1955, t. 5.
  39. Hakeem M., A critique of the psychiatric approach [w:] J. Rouček (red.), Juvenile Delinquency, Philosophical Library, New York 1958.
  40. Hakeem M., The validity of the Burgess method of parole prediction, „American Journal of Sociology” 1948, t. 53.
  41. Hathaway S.R., Monachesi E.D., Analyzing and Predicting Juvenile Delinquency with the MMPI, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis 1953.
  42. Hathaway S.R., Monachesi E.D., Young L.A., Delinquency Rates and Personality, „Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology” 1960, t. 50.
  43. Healy W., Bronner A., Shimberg M.E., The close of another chapter in criminology, „Mental Hygiene” 1935, t. 19.
  44. Hill C.P., Symposium on Predictive Methods.
  45. Horst P., Prediction of Personal Adjustment, Social Science Research Council, New York 1941.
  46. Jasiński J., Kształtowanie się przestępczości nieletnich w Polsce w latach 1951-1960 w świetle statystyki sądowej, „Archiwum Kryminologii” 1964, t. II, s. 9-144,
  47. Kohlne E.F., Die Kriminalität entlassener Fürsorgezöglinge und die Möglichkeit einer Erfolgsprognose, „Kriminalistische Abhandlungen” 1938, No. 33.
  48. Kołakowska H., Badania nad recydywą nieletnich przestępców, praca doktorska, maszynopis.
  49. Kołakowska H., Nieletni recydywiści, „Archiwum Kryminologii” 1960, t. I, s. 55-112,
  50. Kreutz M., Metody współczesnej psychologii. Studium krytyczne, Państwowy Zakład Wydawnictw Szkolnych, Warszawa 1962.
  51. Kryczka P., Rodzina a przestępczość nieletnich, „Studia Socjologiczne” 1962, nr 3.
  52. Laulicht J., Recidivism and its correlates, „Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology” 1963, t. 54.
  53. Leferenz H., Probleme der kriminologischen Prognose, „Kriminalbiologische Gegenwartsfragen” 1958, nr 3.
  54. Majewska A., Młodzież, dzieci i alkoholizm rodziców, „Studia Pedagogiczne” 1963, t. 10.
  55. Malewska H., Norma uczciwości w środowisku młodzieży, „Studia Socjologiczne” 1963, nr 2.
  56. Mannheim H., Wilkins L.T., Prediction Methods in Relation to Borstal Training, HMSO, London 1955.
  57. McCord W., McCord J., Origins of Crime, Columbia University Press, New York 1959.
  58. Meeh P., Clinical Versus Statistical Prediction, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis 1954.
  59. Merril M., Problems of Child Delinquency, Houghton Mifflin, New York 1947.
  60. Meyer F., Der Kriminologische Wert von Prognosetafeln, „Monatsschrift für Krimonologie und Strafrechtsreform” 1959, t. 42.
  61. Meyer F., Rückfallsprognose bei unbestimmt verurteilten Jugendlichen, Röhrscheid, Bonn 1956.
  62. Meywerk W., Beitrag zur Bestimmung der sozialen Prognose an Rückfallsverbrechern, „Monatsschrift für Kriminalbiologie und Strafrechtsreform” 1938, t. 29.
  63. Middendorf W., Die Prognose im Strafrecht und in der Kriminologie, „Zeitschrift für die Gesamte Strafrechtswissenschaft” 1960, t. 72, nr 1-2.
  64. Middendorf W., Wert und Problematik der Prognose bei Minderjähringen, „Kriminalistik” 1961, nr 10, 11, 12.
  65. Monachesi E.D., Prediction of criminal behavior [w:] Encyclopedia of Criminology, Philosophical Library, New York 1949.
  66. Monachesi E.D., Some personality characteristics of delinquents and no delinquents, „Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology” 1948, t. 38.
  67. Monahan T.P., Family status and delinquency [w:] M.E. Wolfgang, L. Savitz, N. Johnston (red.), The Sociology of Crime and Delinquency, Wiley, New York 1952.
  68. Muszyński H., Kradzież w poglądach i postępkach dzieci, „Nowa Szkoła” 1963, nr 1.
  69. Nass G., Psychologische Fehlerquellen bei Prognosetabellen und deren Eliminierung, „Kriminalbiologische Gegewartsfragen” 1958, nr 3.
  70. Nowak S., Prawa ogólne i generalizacje historyczne, „Studia Socjologiczne” 1961, nr 1.
  71. Ohlin L.E., Duncan O.D., The efficiency of prediction in criminology, „American Journal of Sociology” 1949, t. 54.
  72. Ohlin L.E., Selection for Parole, Russell Sage Foundation, New York 1951.
  73. Olson W.C., Child Development, Heath, Boston 1949.
  74. Ossowski S. [w:] O osobliwościach nauk społecznych, Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, Warszawa 1962.
  75. Panton J.H., Use of the MMPI as an Index to Successful Parole, „Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology” 1962, t. 53, nr 4, s. 484-488.
  76. Pawełczyńska A., Grupy nieletnich przestępców, „Archiwum Kryminologii” 1960, t. I, s. 113-163,
  77. Peters K., Grundprobleme der Kriminalpädagogik, De Gruyter, Berlin 1960.
  78. Piecha W., Die Lebensbewährung der als „unerziehbar entlassenen Fürsorgezöglinge, Otto Schwartz, Göttingen 1959.
  79. Pongratz L., Hübner H., Lebensbewährung nach öffentlicher Erziehung, Luchterhand, Darmstadt 1959.
  80. Powers E., Witmer H., An Experiment in the Prevention of Delinquency, The Cambridge-Sommerville Youth Study, Columbia University Press, New York 1951.
  81. Predicting Juvenile Delinquency. State Departament of Institutions and Agencies, Trenton, New York 1955.
  82. Prigmore Ch.S., An Analysis of Rater Reliability on the Glueck Scale for the Prediction of Juvenile Delinquency, „Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology” 1963, t. 54, nr 1, s. 30-41.
  83. Reckless W., Dinitz S., Kay B., A Self Gradient among Potential Delinquents, „Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology” 1958, t. 49, nr 1, s. 230-233.
  84. Reckless W., Dinitz S., Kay B., The Self Component in Potential Delinquency and Non-Delinquency, „American Sociological Review” 1957, t. 22, nr 5, s. 566-570.
  85. Reiss A.J., The Accuracy, Efficiency and Validity of a Prediction Instrument, „American Sociological Review” 1951, t. 56, nr 6.
  86. Rose G., 500 Borstal Boys, Oxford 1954.
  87. Rubin S., Unraveling Juvenile Delinquency, I. Illusions in a Research Project Using Matched Pairs, „American Journal of Sociology” 1951, t. 57, nr 2, s. 107-114.
  88. Sarapata A., Doktór K., Elementy socjologii przemysłu, Państwowe Wydawnictwo Ekonomiczne, Warszawa 1962.
  89. Schiedt R., Ein Beitrag zum Problem der Rückfallsprognose, München 1936.
  90. Schneider A.J.N., Grone C.W., Glueck S., Glueck E., Prediction of Behavior of Civilian Delinquents in the Armed Forces, „Mental Hygiene” 1944, t. 28, 1944, s. 456-475.
  91. Schuessler K., Parole Prediction – Its History and Status, „Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology” 1955, t. 45, nr 4.
  92. Schuessler K.F., Cressey D.R., Personality Characteristics of Criminals, „American Journal of Sociology” 1950, t. 55, s. 476-484.
  93. Schwaab F., Die soziale Prognose bei rückfälligen Vermögensverbrechern, Wiegandt, Leipzig 1939.
  94. Siegel S., Nonparametric Statistics for Behavioral Sciences, McGraw-Hill, New York 1956.
  95. Simpson J.E., Dinitz S., Kay B., Reckless W., Delinquency Potential of Pre-Adolescents in High Delinquency Areas, „The British Journal of Delinquency” 1960, t. 10, s. 211-215.
  96. Spionek H., Trudności wychowawcze i przestępczość nieletnich. Analiza psychologiczna, Zakład im. Ossolińskich, Wrocław 1956.
  97. Stern W., Klinische Anvendung des Tests. Die Tests in der klinischen Psychologie, Zurich 1955.
  98. Stott D.H., Delinquency Prediction Instrument, University of London Press, London 1960.
  99. Stott D.H., Delinquency Proneness and Court Disposal of Young Offenders, „The British Journal of Delinquency” 1963, t. 4, s. 37-42.
  100. Stott D.H., Spotting the Delinquency – Prone Child, „The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice” 1959, t. 10, nr 2, s. 87-95.
  101. Stott D.H., The prediction of delinquency from non-delinquent behaviour, „The British Journal of Delinquency” 1960 t. 10, nr 3, s. 195-210.
  102. Stott D.H., Third Report of the Glasgow Survey of Boys put on Probation during 1957, „Approved Schools Gazette” 1962, t. 56. 1962.
  103. Stouffer S.A., Social Research to Test Ideas, The Free Press of Glencoe, New York 1962.
  104. Stutte H., Grenzen der Sozialpaedagogik Ergebnisse einer Untersuchung praktisch unerziehbarer Fuersorgezoeglinge, AFET, Marburg 1958.
  105. Stutte H., Psychopathologische Bedingungen der Jugendkriminalität, „Recht der Jugend und des Bildungswesens” 1964, t. 12, z. 3, s. 33-38.
  106. Stutte H., Über praktisch unerziehbare jugendliche Dissoziale und ihre Sonderbehandlung [w:] Hermann Stutte, Detlev Ploog, Psychiatrie und Gesellschaft. Ergebnisse und Probleme der Sozialpsychiatrie, Bern 1958.
  107. Święcicki A., Spożycie napojów alkoholowych w Polsce w świetle badań ankietowych, „Archiwum Kryminologii” 1964, t. II, s. 239-347,
  108. Taft D.R., Implication of the Glueck Methodology for Criminological Research, „ Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology” 1951, t. 42, nr 3.
  109. Tappan P.W., Crime, Justice and Correction, McGraw Hill, New York 1960.
  110. Thompson R.E., Further Validation of the Glueck Social Prediction Table for Identifying Potential Delinquents, „Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology” 1957, t. 48, nr 2, s. 175-184.
  111. Thompson R.E., A Validation of the Glueck Social Prediction Scale for Proneness to Delinquency, „Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology” 1952, t. 43, nr 4, s. 451-470.
  112. Tibbits C., Success or Failure on Parole Can be Predicted: A Study of the Records of 3,000 Youths Paroled from the Illinois State Reformatory, „Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology” 1931, t. 22, nr 1.
  113. Trunk H., Soziale Prognosen an Strafgefangenen, „Monatsschrift für Kriminalbiologie und Strafrechtsreform” 1937, t. 28.
  114. Tuomioistunten Tutkimat Rikoset Vid Domstolar Rannasakada Brot – Official Statistics of Finland 1957, Helsingfors 1961.
  115. Vold G.B., Prediction Methods and Parole, The Sociological Press, Hannover 1931.
  116. Voss H.L., The Predictive Efficiency of the Glueck Social Prediction Table, „Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology” 1963, t. 54, nr 4, s. 421-431.
  117. Wallin P. [w:] Prediction of Personal Adjustment, Social Science Research Council, New York 1941.
  118. Weeks A., Predicting Juvenile Delinquency, „American Journal of Sociology” 1943, t. 8.
  119. Whelan R.W., An Experiment in Predicting Delinquency, „Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology” 1955, t. 45, nr 4, s. 432-441.
  120. Wilkins L., Symposium on Predictive Methods, „British Journal of Delinquency” 1955, t. 6, nr 2.
  121. Zakrzewski P., Prognoza społeczna w kryminologii, „Państwo i Prawo” 1961, nr 10.