What Effect Did the New Orleans School Reforms Have On Youth Crime?

This quasi-experimental study, by Stephen Barnes, Douglas N. Harris, and Lan Nguyen, seeks to examine the effects of the post-Katrina New Orleans school reforms on youth criminal conviction/adjudication. Using a synthetic control group approach, the authors compare youth conviction rates from 2001 to 2018 of students exposed to the school reforms with school districts in Louisiana with similar pre-reform conviction rates. The students included in the study were from two different groups: 7th-9th graders, and a group of 4th-6th graders that were followed until the ages of 23-25. By comparing other Louisiana school districts with similar levels of pre-reform youth conviction rates to New Orleans, which allowed for the difference in conviction rates between the two groups to serve as the effect that reforms had. The main concussions drawn from the study are that the New Orleans school reforms did not increase the youth crime rates and probably reduced youth crime among students attending publicly funded schools and that there was a consistent rate reduction effect in the crime categories of property, drugs, and crimes in other categories. There was also no effect on violent crime as a result of the reforms, and conviction/adjudication rates remained at similar levels to the students who did experience the reforms.

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