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NCJ Number: 221013 Find in a Library
Title: Race, Gender, and Legal Counsel: Differential Outcomes in Two Juvenile Courts
Journal: Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice  Volume:6  Issue:1  Dated:January 2008  Pages:83-104
Author(s): Lori Guevara; Denise Herz; Cassia Spohn
Date Published: January 2008
Page Count: 22
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined the influence of race, gender, and type of legal counsel on juvenile court dispositions.
Abstract: The study found that race, gender, type of attorney, and court location influenced disposition outcomes. The findings were not always as predicted, however. Contrary to the study's expectation, non-White youth did not always receive the more severe outcomes. Although White youth were more likely than non-White youth to receive probation, thus being less likely to receive an out-of-home placement, race was not a significant influence on the most lenient disposition, i.e., dismissal of charges. Also, contrary to theoretical expectation, White females did not always receive the most lenient outcomes. White females were more likely than non-White females to receive an out-of-home placement. Also, youth represented by legal counsel were more likely to receive a severe outcome than youth who were without counsel. This effect was more pronounced for youth with a private attorney. In addition, youth in the urban or "due process" courts were not more likely to receive a severe outcome. In fact, youth in the urban county had a greater likelihood of charge dismissal than youth in the suburban ("traditional") court. Possible reasons for these unexpected dispositions related to race, gender, type of legal counsel, and court location are discussed. The study demonstrates the need for a research methodology that considers the interplay between legally relevant and legally irrelevant factors on juvenile justice decisionmaking. This allows for a more comprehensive assessment of both the independent and interrelated effects of race, gender, type of legal counsel, and court location on juvenile justice decisionmaking. Study data were collected from case files in two midwestern juvenile courts for 1990-94, an urban county (n=1,388) and a suburban county (n=1,047). 5 tables, 6 notes, and 97 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile sentencing
Index Term(s): Defense counsel; Gender issues; Juvenile court judicial discretion; Juvenile courts; Racial discrimination
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