Prosecution, Conviction, and Deterrence in Child Maltreatment Cases

Journal Article (Journal Article)

This study examines how decisions made by the criminal justice system in child maltreatment cases affect defendants’ future probability of committing a child maltreatment offense, another offense, or having a child involved in child protective services (CPS). A sample of parents who were arrested on a child maltreatment charge during 2005 to 2010 (N = 6,940) was drawn from North Carolina administrative records from the criminal court, birth certificates, and CPS. Instrumental variables included the prosecutor’s prosecution rate and the judge’s conviction rate. Rearrest rates for child maltreatment offenses were low (3%), but high for other offenses (43%), as were assessments by CPS (43%). Being prosecuted and convicted reduced probabilities of rearrest in some model specifications. However, prosecution only decreased the probability of rearrest for child maltreatment. Neither prosecution nor conviction prevented future CPS involvement, suggesting the need to better understand what supports can prevent adverse outcomes in this population.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gifford, EJ; Eldred, LM; Mccutchan, SA; Sloan, FA

Published Date

  • October 1, 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 44 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 1262 - 1280

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1552-3594

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0093-8548

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0093854817727795

Citation Source

  • Scopus