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NCJ Number: 75484 Find in a Library
Title: Juvenile Sentencing and Public Policy - Beyond Counterdeterrence
Journal: Policy Analysis  Volume:4  Issue:1  Dated:(Winter 1978)  Pages:33-46
Author(s): G R Wheeler
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 14
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This Ohio study shows that indeterminate sentencing of juveniles causes sentencing disparity and 'prisonization,' the fixed sentence, based on gravity of offense, is suggested as an alternative.
Abstract: The study sample consisted of a 3-month cohort of 676 male and female juvenile offenders committed to the Ohio Youth Commision in 1972. The cases were monitored for 2 years with a computerized information system. Following the initial stay in the diagnostic center, a female offender was assigned to one of two institutions, a male offender to one of five institutions. The minimum sentence was 5 months. Prisonization was derived by comparing the mean stays of the cohort's returnees and successful discharges. Offender-related variables consisted of sex, race, age at time of incarceration, and offense. Offenses were classified into four categories: crimes against persons, against property, other felonies and gross misdemeanors (such as prostitution and forgery), and minor misdemeanors and status offenses. The findings indicated that the 'institutional effect' -- as measured by mean length of stay by offender characteristics and institutional assignment -- was more random than deliberate. Each institution appeared to operationalize a sentencing procedure that often discriminated against the youngest age group, the least serious offender, and the white offender in long-term treatment-oriented facilities. As a result of these contradictions, the incentive to participate in criminal acts might increase, since status and minor offenders had nothing to lose in 'time' if they broke a more serious law, and the serious offender, might feel that society could not care about the gravity of unlawful facts. Establishing a modified form of 'fixed' sentence, linked to the gravity of the crime, would result in increasing respect for the law by the young. It would also depopulate many institutions of status and minor offenders and possibly result in longer confinement of violent offenders. In addition, age, race, and sex discrimination would be eliminated. Finally, adopting a statutory sentence would remove arbitrary standards of release associated with often oppressive correctional institutions. The relevant literature is discussed. Tabular data and 15 footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Indeterminate sentences; Juvenile offender classification; Juvenile sentencing; Ohio
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