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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 70230 Find in a Library
Title: Juvenile Court - Therapy or Crime Control, and Do Lawyers Make a Difference?
Journal: Law and Society Review  Volume:14  Issue:2  Dated:(Winter 1980)  Pages:263-308
Author(s): S H Clarke; G G Koch
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 46
Sponsoring Agency: Alamo Area Council of Governments
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Two North Carolina juvenile courts were studied in 1975-76 to determine their degree of concern about rehabilitation, crime prevention, and adversarial procedure.
Abstract: Disillusionment with the therapeutic ideal has led to the movement to reduce the jurisdiction of juvenile courts to cases in which they can exercise a fair, adversarial court procedure including representation by a lawyer. Data from juvenile courts in Charlotte and Winston-Salem were statistically analyzed to discover the degree to which these courts operated with therapeutic goals in mind, were concerned about punishment and crime control, or were giving effect to the adversial procedure. These courts showed a trend toward reducing their intake of cases involving defendants with a less serious prior record and current offense and becoming more punitive with regard to the remaining cases. The dominant factors associated with disposition--particularly with the decision to commit the child to training school--were prior court record and seriousness of current offense. Other factors found to be of some importance were the child's family structure, support by the family as shown by court attendance, and whether the complainant in the cases was a parent or a probation officer. Race, family income, and the sex of the child had little or no effect on decisions to commit. Differences in individual judges' commitment rates were explained already by differences in the cases they handled. Being held in detention before the court hearing made commitment more likely. The type of counsel--private, individually assigned, or specialized juvenile defender--made no difference in whether the child was adjudicated delinquent or commited. Children represented by counsel were somewhat more likely to be commited than those without counsel. Perhaps the participation by lawyers in juvenile court is largely a formality, a token compliance with due process requirements rather than an integral part of court factfinding. Tables, 16 references, and 47 footnotes are provided. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Attorney competence; Decisionmaking; Judicial discretion; Juvenile adjudication; Juvenile court diversion; Juvenile courts; North Carolina; Right to counsel; Sentencing disparity
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