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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76571 Find in a Library
Title: Discretion in Juvenile Justice (From Justice as Fairness, P 160-192, 1981, David Fogel and Joe Hudson, ed. - See NCJ-76564)
Author(s): D B Chein; J Hudson
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 33
Sponsoring Agency: Anderson Publishing Co
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Minnesota Governor's Cmssn on Crime Prevention and Control
St Paul, MN 55101
Grant Number: 4700000374
Sale Source: Anderson Publishing Co
Publicity Director
2035 Reading Road
Cincinnati, OH 45202
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article assesses the criteria used by justice system officials in dealing with delinquents; it also describes the research methods and findings of a recent study in Minnesota on criteria used by corrections officials in making decisions about incarcerating and paroling adjudicated delinquents.
Abstract: A literature review is provided on criteria used by juvenile court judges and probation officers in making decisions about juveniles. Detention, referral to court, and court disposition are viewed from the standpoint of sex, race, age, socioeconomic status, family/home environment, offense and offense history, and attitude and demeanor. Most studies show that age, race, and socioeconomic status are not in themselves important factors in decisionmaking, but that juveniles who come from broken homes or unsuitable home environments (variously defined) tend to be handled more severely. Findings indicate that females stay longer in institutions than do males and that status offenders stay longer than criminal offenders. A study conducted in Minnesota, in 1974 and 1975, at three State-operated institutions for juvenile delinquents sought to assess criteria used by staff in making the initial decision to retain or release youth, as well as the criteria used in deciding to parole youth after exposure to the institutional treatment program. A stratified random sample of 211 reports, or 25.5 percent of all juveniles committed for evaluation between January 1, 1973, and June 30, 1974, was selected for analysis. The study found that mostly attitudinal and adjustment variables were used in the parole decision. These results suggest that staff members did not clearly understand the purpose of institutionalization. In the view of the staff, youth may be institutionalized either to protect society or to help the juvenile deal with problems, develop self-insight, and learn to be responsible. Once institutionalized, however, the central criteria for determining parole were perceived to be the juvenile's attitude, maturation, and social progress as defined by the staff and the institutional treatment program. Thus, status ofenders were ultimately judged by the same standards as were serious offenders concerning the release decision. The release guidelines established in Minnesota as a result of the study defined three categories of youth and established specific release procedures, thus reducing the discretionary power of justice system officials. Seven tables, 5 footnotes, and 46 references are supplied.
Index Term(s): Juvenile adjudication; Juvenile codes; Juvenile correctional facilities; Juvenile detention; Juvenile justice system; Juvenile status offenders; Minnesota; Rights of minors
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