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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 184910 Find in a Library
Title: Judging Delinquents (From Sociology of Juvenile Delinquency, Second Edition, P 426-437, 1996, Ronald J. Berger, ed. -- See NCJ-184895)
Author(s): Robert M. Emerson
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 12
Sponsoring Agency: Nelson-Hall Publishers
Chicago, IL 60606
Sale Source: Nelson-Hall Publishers
111 North Canal Street
Chicago, IL 60606
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Description
Format: Book (Softbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This chapter considers how juvenile court personnel's assessments of youths' moral character and the dynamics of denunciations and counter-denunciations influence juvenile court outcomes.
Abstract: Juvenile court personnel attempt to distinguish cases of genuine "trouble" that require official intervention from cases that do not require "doing something" about the youth. In seeking practical solutions to cases believed to involve "trouble," the juvenile court is largely guided by its judgments and inferences regarding the nature of the delinquent actor involved. This involves a process of inquiry into the youth's moral character. If the court decides that there is no "trouble" in a case, it assumes that the delinquent involved is "normal" in character. If trouble is located, however, character is rendered problematic. This initiates more intensive court involvement with the case, as well as more intensive concern with accounting for the youth's behavior. Consideration of the structural features of "total denunciation" provides additional insight into the processes of establishing moral character in the juvenile court. A successful total denunciation must transcend routine denunciation by foreclosing all possible defenses and by neutralizing all possible sources of support. This sets up conditions for the use of "counter-denunciation" as a defensive strategy. This strategy seeks to undermine the discrediting implications of the accusation by attacking the actions, motives, and/or character of one's accusers. Although a denounced youth has a fair chance of successfully discrediting a complainant of his/her own age, and some chance when the complainant is a family members, counter-denunciations directed against officials, particularly against the police, almost inevitably fail. The court will often go to great lengths to protect and defend the public character of the police when it is attacked during a formal proceeding. 3 notes and 4 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile processing
Index Term(s): Decisionmaking; Discretionary decisions; Juvenile court intake; Juvenile court judicial discretion
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