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NCJ Number: 81887 Find in a Library
Title: Net Widening and Relabeling - Some Consequences of Deinstitutionalization
Journal: American Behavioral Scientist  Volume:24  Issue:6  Dated:(July/August 1981)  Pages:801-810
Author(s): K T Van Dusen
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 10
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A theory of factors that influence the implementation of programs to deinstutionalize status offenders is applied in assessing two sharply differing deinstitutionalization programs.
Abstract: The theory developed bases the consequences of the implementation of a status offender deinstitutionalization program in the motivations and dispositions of the practitioners involved. Practitioner motivations and dispositions are primarily influenced by (1) the philosophical agreement or disagreement of practitioners with the legislation of deinstitutionalization, (2) the degree to which the deinstitutionalization legislation requires practitioners to make changes, and (3) the incentives or disincentives accompanying implementation. The first program assessed under this theory was a federally funded effort to deinstitutionalize status offenders in 10 States. The program was voluntary, and practitioners had a great deal of control over the types of programs developed as alternatives to the institutionalization of status offenders. Incentives for practitioners included a substantial amount of money for programs, increased discretion in the handling of clients, and intraorganizational power opportunities for the practitioners who created and administered the programs. While the motivation for the practitioners was high in the project in all 10 States, there was considerable net widening as a result of the program, since juveniles who would not have formerly contacted the criminal justice system were drawn into it. The second program assessed was California's legislative mandate to deinstitutionalize all status offenders without exception, which was enacted over strong opposition from practitioners. No money was provided for program alternatives, and little discretion was afforded practitioners in implementing the legislation. This program resulted in practitioners relabeling juveniles formerly considered status offenders so that institutionalization would be possible. The theory developed is used to show how each of the programs might have been more effective in motivating practitioners to be less restrictive with status offenders while at the same time being given guidelines that would reduce the likelihood of net widening. Four notes and two references are provided.
Index Term(s): California; Change management; Deinstitutionalization; Juvenile status offenders
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