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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76843 Find in a Library
Title: Alabama's Juvenile Status Offenders - A Pilot Study
Author(s): M R Lewis
Corporate Author: University of Alabama
School of Social Work
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 73
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
Arlington, VA 22230
University of Alabama
University, AL 35486
Grant Number: ISP 77-18691
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study develops and pretests a method for studying factors which influence decisions now being made in Alabama under the new State code regarding juvenile status offenders referred to the court.
Abstract: In 1975, the Alabama legislature enacted a new law which reorganized the State's entire judicial system. Article V of that act, related to juvenile matters, intended for the courts to have responsibility for children 2 years older than they did under the old law. Thus, the upper age definition of a child was increased from 16 to 18. To determine what services are needed by juveniles and their families as part of a larger statewide study of the new provision's impact, study methodology included interviewing top State officials with regard to how they believed the service delivery system is adapting to the new laws and a telephone survey of chief probation officers of 85 percent of the Alabama counties. Findings reveal that 34 of the 57 counties surveyed had only one probation officer. In addition, 80.7 percent of the counties did not have a full-time intake worker. Shelter care facilities for girls and boys were available in 29.8 percent of the counties. Analysis of a sample of 60 youths who were referred to one urban and one rural county for three status offenses during 1978 revealed that all but 11 were known to the Department of Pensions and Security at some time prior to the 1978 referral. Of the variables considered, being white and female, frequency of running away from home, distance ran, number of referrals to court, age of the head of household, and having violence in the home were significantly related to organizational decisions representing the most extensive use of coercion over the youth and the greatest pessimism about the family's ability to control or interest in having the youth at home. On the whole, the youths needed and received some services through court intervention which they would not otherwise have received. However, it appears that many services were not available in all counties, and that the present laws failed to adequately address the problem as it relates to the family situation. More comprehensive research based upon a statewide sample is needed before generalizable conclusions may be drawn. An appendix, references, 15 tables, and approximately 60 footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Alabama; Juvenile codes; Juvenile court diversion; Juvenile court intake; Juvenile status offenders; Legislative impact
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