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NCJ Number: 75148 Find in a Library
Title: Juvenile Court Commitments - The Role of Organizational Factors
Author(s): M Sosin
Corporate Author: University of Wisconsin, Madison
Institute for Research on Poverty
United States of America
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 37
Sponsoring Agency: Eric Document Reproduction Service
Arlington, VA 22210
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Madison, WI 53706
US Dept of Health, Education, and Welfare
Washington, DC 20201
Sale Source: Eric Document Reproduction Service
P. O. Box 190
Arlington, VA 22210
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Using a sample collected by the National Assessment of Juvenile Corrections in 1974, this paper examines the impact of organizational factors on the rate at which juvenile courts commit referred youths to institutions.
Abstract: The commitment decision is best viewed as a two-step process in which a youth first faces an intake interview and then may be sent into the formal court system if an informal disposition is not employed. This research first considered five hypotheses: (1) decisions made at each point independently influence the commitment rate; (2) referral agencies usually lobby for low informal handling rates and more commitments and the degree of their influence will affect intake decisions; (3) juvenile courts with elected judges handle fewer cases informally and commit more offenders than courts with appointed judges; (4) the time judges spend on juvenile matters is directly proportional to the rate of informal handling; and (5) the rates of informal handling and commitment vary according to the type of court to which the juvenile court is attached. According to this view, rates of informal handling are higher in courts with complex jurisdictions, while juvenile courts attached to courts with small civil jurisdictions have lower rates of informal disposition and higher numbers of formal commitments. The study then analyzed responses from judges and administrators involved in juvenile matters to the National Assessment of Juvenile Corrections survey, which sent questionnaires to 600 courts believed to have juvenile jurisdiction. Followup procedures resulted in a response rate of 60 percent for judges and 58 percent for administrators. State and local statistical reports were used to supplement this information. Analysis of the data supports the orginal hypotheses and demonstrates the importance of social and power factors in commitment decisions, rather than administrative rationality. The findings also imply that the proportion of youths committed to institutions does not reflect the seriousness of the average offense. The strong relation between the informal handling rate and the overall commitment rate suggests that the intake workers are crucial in determining the commitment rate. Furthermore, social and political factors significantly influence their decisionmaking patterns. Studies of individual offender determinants of dispositions explain 15 percent of the variance in dispositional decisions, whereas this research explains 38 percent of the variance in informal rates and 16 percent in formal commitments. Implication of the results for the assessment of juvenile courts and public institutions in general are presented. Tables, footnotes, and 35 references are included.
Index Term(s): Correctional institutions (juvenile); Juvenile adjudication; Juvenile courts; Organization studies; Sentencing disparity; Sentencing/Sanctions
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=75148

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