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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76988 Find in a Library
Title: Juvenile Court Dispositions of Status Offenders - An Analysis of Case Decisions (From Race, Crime, and Criminal Justice, P 127-144, 1981, R L McNeely and Carl E Pope, ed. - See NCJ-76982)
Author(s): W Feyerherm
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 18
Sponsoring Agency: Sage Publications, Inc
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
Sale Source: Sage Publications, Inc
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This California study of the role of race in the processing of status offenders points to accumulations of discrimination against blacks, which collectively may have the same results as blatant discrimination.
Abstract: Data on all juveniles referred to 10 county probation departments during a 1-year period were obtained from the State for the year 1972. The data included each new delinquent case referred to the probation department and those cases in which a delinquent petition was filed on a currently active dependent case. The distributions of status offenders were compared with other categories of juveniles referred to probation departments. Processing of status offenders at the point of intake decision and court disposition was analyzed. The findings showed that the application of the label 'status offender' was tied to extralegal characteristics. Moreover, analyses of the processing decisions confirmed the existence of substantive differences in processing, sex, and race groupings. The apparent biases in the decision processes served to amplify the effects of each biased decision rather than to result in decisions offsetting each other. For example, the likelihood of a black youth apprehended for a status offense receiving formal supervision at court disposition was 42.5 percent, as compared with 31.4 percent for white youths. The difference, 11.1 percent, in the overall handing of the two types of cases, was greater than the percentage difference occurring in either of the decision points examined singly. The amplification process, if it occurred at additional points of processing, would result in a situation in which the overall operation of the juvenile justice system had the effect of introducing substantial biases in the treatment of minorities. Furthermore, although factors such as age, sex, and race were related to processing decisions, the greatest contributor (aside from offense category) was jurisdiction. Particularly in such an ill-defined area as status offenses, such findings should cause concern about the equity of the system. Discussion of prior research, statistical data, notes, and over 20 references are included.
Index Term(s): Black/African Americans; Juvenile processing; Juvenile status offenders; Probation or parole decisionmaking; Racial discrimination
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