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NCJ Number: 205871 Find in a Library
Title: Race, Legal Representation, and Juvenile Justice: Issues and Concerns
Journal: Crime and Delinquency  Volume:50  Issue:3  Dated:July 2004  Pages:344-371
Author(s): Lori Guevara; Cassia Spohn; Denise Herz
Editor(s): Elizabeth P. Deschenes
Date Published: July 2004
Page Count: 28
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined how the presence and type of counsel and race affect juvenile court decisions.
Abstract: Previous research on juvenile court decisions has focused on different stages in the process. Some studies have focused on whether to arrest and detain, while others have focused on the intake decision. Still others have taken a more comprehensive approach, examining detention, referral, adjudication, and disposition decisions. This study focused on the influence of two independent variables on juvenile court outcomes: presence/type of counsel and offender race. Data for this study were collected from case files in two Midwestern juvenile courts for the years 1990 through 1994. Of the two counties used in the study, County A had a minority population of 16 percent, while County B had a minority population of 5 percent. Various sampling procedures were used to obtain a sample of 1,388 cases for County A and 1,047 cases for County B. The dependent variable for this study is type of disposition, which measures sentence severity, while the independent variables reflect offender characteristics, legal characteristics, and case characteristics. Several hypotheses were tested in this study: 1) race/ethnicity would affect juvenile court outcomes; 2a) juveniles represented by counsel would receive more severe dispositions than juveniles not represented by counsel; 2b) juveniles represented by private attorneys would receive less severe outcomes than juveniles represented by public defenders; and 3) race/ethnicity would interact with type of counsel to produce differential outcomes for White and non-White youth. The data were analyzed using multinomial logistic regression. Results of the analysis supported the first hypothesis and indicate that White youth are more likely than non-White youth to receive either probation or residential placement than secure confinement as their formal disposition. Results of the analysis also provide support for hypothesis 2a with youth appearing with an attorney most likely to have the charges dismissed and the least likely to receive a secure confinement. On the other hand, hypothesis 2b was not supported by the findings; youth with a private attorney were the least likely to have the charges dismissed and the most likely to receive a secure confinement. For the last hypothesis, results of the analysis indicate that the influence of type of counsel varied by race. White and non-White youth with a private attorney were less likely to have the charges dismissed and thus more likely to receive a secure confinement; yet non-White youth with a private attorney were more likely to receive probation and thus less likely to be securely confined. These findings suggest that there are differences in the influence of legal counsel across race, such that the effect of race may result in more severe dispositions but could also result in a lenient outcome. 5 tables, 9 notes, and 77 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile case disposition
Index Term(s): Attorneys; Court procedures; Defense counsel; Judicial decisions; Public defenders; Racial discrimination; Sentencing disparity
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