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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 165101 Find in a Library
Title: Decision Making in Delinquency Cases: The Role of Race and Juveniles' Admission/Denial of the Crime
Journal: Law and Human Behavior  Volume:21  Issue:1  Dated:(February 1997)  Pages:47-69
Author(s): R B Ruback; P J Vardaman
Date Published: 1997
Page Count: 23
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: An archival analysis of juvenile adjudication decisions in 16 Georgia counties and a questionnaire study of judges, probation officers, and court service workers who evaluated juvenile case scenarios found that juveniles who admitted committing their crimes were treated more severely than juveniles who denied committing their crimes.
Abstract: The first study involved an analysis of 2,043 court records to identify factors related to adjudication decisions in juvenile delinquency cases. Data consisted of information on a random selection of juveniles who had committed delinquent crimes in 1993. The first study showed that whites were more likely than blacks to admit committing the crime. After controlling for this finding and other legal factors, race did not have a significant effect. The second study used a questionnaire that consisted of brief case scenarios of three juveniles: one accused of motor vehicle theft, one accused of simple battery on a high school teacher, and one accused of cocaine possession with intent to distribute. In this study, 67 judges, 53 probation officers, and 126 court service workers made adjudication and disposition decisions about the three juveniles in experimental simulations in which juvenile race, length of prior record, and reaction to the crime (admitting or denying it) were systematically manipulated. Consistent with the first archival study, juveniles who admitted committing their offense were treated more severely than juveniles who denied committing their offense. Type of crime committed and juvenile legal history were significant predictors of adjudication and disposition decisions. More specifically, the drug crime was judged to be more serious than theft and battery, and juveniles with legal histories received more serious adjudications and dispositions than did juveniles with no prior records. Possible reasons are discussed for why admitting a crime leads to more punishment. 25 references and 3 tables
Main Term(s): Juvenile offenders
Index Term(s): Assault and battery; Black/African Americans; Black/White Crime Comparisons; Caucasian/White Americans; Cocaine; Crime in schools; Crimes against teachers; Drug offenders; Juvenile court judicial discretion; Juvenile delinquents; Juvenile drug abusers; Juvenile sentencing; Minority juvenile offenders; Motor Vehicle Theft; Punishment; Race-punishment relationship; Sentencing disparity
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