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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78661 Find in a Library
Title: Prevention of Delinquency by Antistigmatization (From Essays on the Theory and Practice of Criminal Justice, P 161-191, 1977, by Robert M Rich See NCJ-78656)
Author(s): F X Ribordy
Date Published: 1977
Page Count: 31
Sponsoring Agency: University Press of America
Lanham, MD 20706
Sale Source: University Press of America
Marketing Director
4720 Boston Way
Lanham, MD 20706
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Following a discussion of the labeling process in delinquency determination, the importance of knowledge of the law among the general public is considered, and a program of decriminalization based on teaching law to all primary children is presented.
Abstract: Law is generally developed by the dominant class in a society and selectively applied to the lower class by a criminal justice system run by representatives of the elite. Juveniles, particularly among the lower class, are expected to comply with those laws mandating conformity to lifestyles set by the dominant adult class; respect for and submission to the authority of the police is a critical aspect of this conformity. Studies have shown that police tend to focus on the nonconforming behavior of lower-class and disadvantaged youth and selectively label them as delinquents, while the nonconforming behavior of middle- and upper-class youth is handled in less formal and less stigmatizing ways. This delinquent labeling of lower-class youth then becomes the basis for a criminal justice record used to justify ever more severe handling of such youth who have repeat encounters with the criminal justice system. To break this cycle of criminal justice system intervention and stigmatization, knowledge about how the law may be manipulated and changed to prevent its oppressive application by a biased criminal justice system must be taught as early as the primary grades. The approach in such teaching must not be to cultivate blind obedience to existing law but rather to show how law is created by certain groups for their own interests and how existing law may be used by knowledgeable citizens to protect their rights. Further, decriminalization of biased and unjust laws should be presented as an important option for dealing with obsolete and unnecessarily restrictive laws. A total of 84 references are listed.
Index Term(s): Conflict theory; Decriminalization; Discrimination; Elementary school education; Labeling theory
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