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Recently there has been growing concern regarding the staffing challenges that plague the U.S. correctional system. This study examines whether staffing challenges within residential facilities are associated with changes in dynamic risk and the likelihood of reoffending among a sample of serious juvenile offenders returning to the community from residential placement. Using administrative data on 2,022 youth who completed a court-imposed placement, in combination with information drawn from a provider’s human resources database, we employ several analytical techniques to untangle the effects of staffing difficulties on youth outcomes. Results indicate that the rate of unscheduled absences was associated with changes in dynamic risk and the duration of placement. Absences were also related to recidivism prior to accounting for changes in dynamic risk and length of stay, suggesting a more complex interrelationship between facility staffing challenges and youth outcomes. Implications for policy and future research are discussed.


This is the author's manuscript of a work originally published in Justice Quarterly, available at

Available for download on Friday, April 01, 2022