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NCJ Number: 48275 Find in a Library
Title: RACE, SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND SENTENCING IN THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM
Journal: JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL LAW, CRIMINOLOGY AND POLICE SCIENCE  Volume:6  Issue:1  Dated:(MARCH 1973)  Pages:90-98
Author(s): T P THORNBERRY
Corporate Author: Northwestern University
School of Law
Managing Editor
United States of America

Williams and Wilkins Co
United States of America
Date Published: 1969
Page Count: 9
Sponsoring Agency: Northwestern University
Chicago, IL 60611
Williams and Wilkins Co
Baltimore, MD 21202
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: USING DATA FROM THE PHILADELPHIA JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM, THE DISPOSITIONS OF BLACKS AND MEMBERS OF LOW SOCIOECONOMIC STRATA (SES) ARE COMPARED WITH THOSE OF WHITES AND MEMBERS OF A HIGH SES.
Abstract: AN EXAMINATON OF A NUMBER OF EARLIER STUDIES FOUND THAT RACIAL AND SOCIAL CLASS DISPARITIES IN JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM DISPOSITIONS COULD GENERALLY BE EXPLAINED BY LEGAL VARIABLES SUCH AS THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE OFFENSE AND THE NUMBER OF PREVIOUS OFFENSES COMMITTED. BASED ON THESE EARLIER STUDIES, THE HYPOTHESES TESTED IN THIS STUDY ARE AS FOLLOWS: (1) BLACKS AND DELINQUENTS FROM THE LOW SES RECEIVE MORE SEVERE DISPOSITIONS THAN THEIR COUNTERPARTS; (2) JUVENILES WHO COMMIT SERIOUS OFFENSES AND HAVE MANY PREVIOUS OFFENSES ALSO RECEIVE MORE SEVERE DISPOSITIONS; AND (3) WHEN LEGAL VARIABLES ARE HELD CONSTANT, NONLEGAL VARIABLES ARE UNRELATED TO DISPOSITION DECISIONS. TO TEST THESE HYPOTHESES DATA COLLECTED BY WOLFGANG, FIGLIO, AND SELLIN IN A PHILADELPHIA STUDY WERE USED. THIS STUDY GATHERED INFORMATION ON ALL MALES BORN IN 1945 WHO LIVED IN PHILADELPHIA AT LEAST FROM THE AGES OF 10 THROUGH 17 YEARS. BY USING THE RECORDS OF A VARIETY OF AGENCIES, THE COHORT STUDY DELIMITED A POPULATION OF 9,945 BOYS. OF THIS COHORT, 3,475 WERE FOUND TO HAVE COMMITTED AT LEAST ONE DELINQUENT ACT. IT IS THIS GROUP OF DELINQUENTS WHICH IS ANALYZED IN THE PRESENT STUDY. A SEARCH THROUGH THE FILES OF THE PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT FOR ALL OFFICIALLY RECORDED DELINQUENT ACTS COMMITTED BY THE COHORT SUBJECTS REVEALED 10,214 DELINQUENT ACTS, WITH FINAL DISPOSITIONS RECORDED FOR 9,601 CASES. MEASUREMENT OF THE DEPENDENT VARIABLE, THE SEVERITY OF LEGAL DISPOSITIONS, IS DEFINED BY THE PENAL CODE OF PENNSYLVANIA. DATA ARE PRESENTED TO ALLOW EXAMINATION OF DIFFERENTIAL DISPOSITION AT EACH OF THE MAJOR STAGES OF THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM: THE POLICE, INTAKE HEARINGS BY THE JUVENILE COURT'S PROBATON DEPARTMENT, AND HEARINGS BY THE JUVENILE COURT. UNLIKE THE PREVIOUS STUDIES, THIS STUDY SHOWS THAT WHEN THE TWO LEGAL VARIABLES, SEVERITY OF OFFENSE AND PREVIOUS RECORD, WERE HELD CONSTANT, THE RACIAL AND SES DISPARITIES DID NOT DISAPPEAR. BLACKS AND LOW SES SUBJECTS WERE MORE LIKELY THAN WHITES AND HIGH SES SUBJECTS TO RECEIVE SEVERE DISPOSITIONS. ALTHOUGH THE DISPARITY WAS MORE NOTICEABLE AT THE LEVELS OF THE POLICE AND THE JUVENILE COURT THAN AT THE LEVEL OF THE INTAKE HEARING, IT WAS OBSERVABLE AT ALL THREE LEVELS OF DISPOSITION. IT IS CAUTIONED THAT THIS STUDY SHOULD ONLY BE USED AS ANOTHER PIECE OF EVIDENCE IN THE PROCESS OF CONFIRMING OR DISCOUNTING THE HYPOTHESES TESTED. TABLES OF DATA ARE INCLUDED. (RCB)
Index Term(s): Discrimination; Dispositions; Juvenile justice system; Minorities; Pennsylvania; Research
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=48275

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