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NCJ Number: 203238 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Offender Ethnicity and Mental Health Services Referrals From Juvenile Courts
Journal: Criminal Justice and Behavior  Volume:30  Issue:6  Dated:December 2003  Pages:644-667
Author(s): Carolyn S. Breda
Date Published: December 2003
Page Count: 24
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Mental Health
Bethesda, MD 20852
Grant Number: MH54638-01A2
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This document examines the decision of the court to refer offenders to treatment and whether offender ethnicity affects the referral decision.
Abstract: This study addressed the important question of ethnic disparity in the juvenile courts’ decision to refer offenders to treatment. The sample includes more than 33,000 youth between the ages of 5 and 18 that were referred to any 1 of the 98 juvenile courts throughout Tennessee in 1997 for a criminal or status offense. Six legal factors that have been routinely in studies of court decisionmaking were assessed, including status offense, proceedings violation, illegal conduct, alcohol or drug related, property, or violent offenses. The design offers the following three criteria for identifying racial bias in court outcomes: (1) race directly affects outcome; (2) race indirectly affects outcome through other factors considered stereotypical in nature; and (3) race moderates the effect of another variable. The results suggested that decisions to refer offenders to services were not substantially affected by offenders’ ethnicity, at least not in a direct or simple way. Legalistic factors explained the treatment referral decision more directly than did youths’ social capital. Type of offense, prior record, police involvement, petitioning, whether to hold a judicial hearing, and if so, whether to officially adjudicate the youth delinquent significantly affected the courts’ referral decision. Among social variables, only age was relevant, with offenders between 10 and 15 years of age most likely to be referred once other factors were taken into account. Youths’ living arrangement, a variable that may stereotype Black offenders that disproportionately live with single parents, was unrelated to a referral outcome. The results showed that ethnicity conditions the effect other variables have on the referral decision. Referrals were influenced strongly by offense type, whether police were involved in the proceedings, petitioning, and adjudication. But the effect these four variables had on the courts’ decision to refer for services depended in part on whether the offenders were White or Black. 3 figures, 2 tables, 57 references
Main Term(s): Court referrals; Race-punishment relationship
Index Term(s): Black/African Americans; Cross-cultural analyses; Ethnic groups; Minority overrepresentation; Racial discrimination; Treatment
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