Jeff Coats was 14 years old when he kidnapped David Grenier. 20 years later, Jeff and David reflect on the crime and how it transformed their lives.


Why did criminologists give up on rehabilitation'?
 In 1975, criminologists in the United States largely abandoned the idea of rehabilitation. A sweeping review found no evidence that rehabilitation programs were reducing recidivism rates. This scholarship fueled a wave of reforms that shifted the juvenile justice system away from rehabilitation and toward other goals like deterrence and incapacitation. Read more about their work. 

What are 'super-predators?'
In 1995, two criminologists forecasted that juvenile homicide rates would go even higher. They warned of the “coming of the super-predators,” and it started a media sensation. Nearly every state responded by intensifying reforms that cracked down on juveniles. Between 1987 and 1995, an historic number of juveniles were sent to adult jails and prisons. Read more about their projections.

How have these criminologists changed policy?
Shortly after 1995, it became clear that the criminologists were wrong. Rehabilitation proved to be possible, and juvenile homicide rates didn’t skyrocket—they plummeted. However, the basic outline of the laws remain in place. Some recent reforms reflect the idea that the juvenile system can and should focus on rehabilitation, but the fundamentals of the juvenile system are largely the same as they were at the height of the panic in 1995. Read more about the state of juvenile justice policy in the United States.


Produced by: Gordon Katic, Sam Fenn and Katherine Beckett.

Original outro music by Leo Folsom and Jesse Beckett-Herbert

Many thanks to the UW team: Bryce, James, Anu, Mariah and Laura; Jesse Beckett-Herbert and Leo Folsum for the score; the Law, Societies & Justice Program and the Center for Human Rights at the the University of Washington.

Special thanks to Stephen, Vince, and Nav for helping out with the website. And Sharan Pawa for designing our brand new logo. And most of all: thanks to David and Jeff. 

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