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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 69581 Find in a Library
Title: Disposition Decisions by Juvenile Court Probation Officers and Judges - A Multivariate Analysis
Journal: Criminal Justice Review  Volume:4  Issue:2  Dated:(Fall 1979)  Pages:121-132
Author(s): C M Sieverdes; D J Shoemaker; O R Cunningham
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 12
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study involves an examination of the relative impact of legal and extralegal variables on dispositional outcomes by precourt and court level officials in the juvenile court system.
Abstract: Many studies have documented variations in case processing by police, probation officers, and judges in the juvenile court, revealing that differential criteria influence the disposition decisions of cases seen by these officials. Data were obtained from 341 juvenile cases processed over a 3-year period and analyzed for disposition; i.e., case dismissal, suspension, or inaction; remedial supervision or referral to service agencies or programs; or referral to juvenile court (by the probation officer) or adjudication as delinquent (by the judge) and subsequent placement on probation or referral to a correctional facility. Data were also analyzed for the juveniles' age, race, sex, and socioeconomic status. These variables were arranged in a block-recursive model depicting variable relationships. Similarities and differences were revealed in disposition decisions among probation officers and judges, with both officials weighing legal factors more heavily than nonlegal factors. Investigation of the legal variables revealed that offense gravity influenced the decisions of the probation officer more strongly, while the judge was more strongly influenced by the number of prior offenses at the time of the current offense. Probation officers' decisions screen out or retain offenders in a pivotal position in the dispositional process. These officers' decisions are influenced by the immediate and physical aspects of the juvenile's case such as offense gravity, age, and race. Judges see only those cases which the probation officer or intake personnel retain in the system. Thus, legal and social variables are more salient in judicial level decisionmaking. Consequently, direct comparison of the decisionmaking results of precourt and court personnel cannot be made without taking certain precautions. Seven notes and 23 references are provided.
Index Term(s): Archival storage; Discretionary decisions; Juvenile court diversion; Juvenile court intake; Juvenile court procedures
Note: Revision of a paper presented to the Mid-South Sociological Association meeting in Monroe, Louisiana, November 1976
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