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NCJ Number: 93305 Find in a Library
Title: How Wide the Net? Probing the Boundaries of the Juvenile Court (From Juvenile Justice Policy, P 129-143, 1984, Scott H Decker, ed. - See NCJ-93299)
Author(s): T S Bynum; J R Greene
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 15
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
Type: Program/Project Evaluation
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study investigates the impact of the implementation of a juvenile diversion program upon the nature of juvenile court referrals and subsequent actions taken by the court.
Abstract: The study data came from an evaluation of the implementation of a juvenile diversion project in a medium-sized midwestern county. Although dependent on the court for referrals, the project had no formal linkages with the juvenile court. Referral decisions were made by the assistant prosecutor assigned to the juvenile court within guidelines established by the juvenile court judge. The guidelines restricted eligibility to first offenders who committed minor offenses, with particular emphasis on status offenders. The analysis was based upon a comparison of the action taken on cases referred to court during the 12 months prior to project implementation (October 1980-September 1981) and during the first 10 months of the project's operation (October 1981-July 1982). Of primary concern in the analysis was the degree to which the diversion project acted as a supplemental or alternative disposition to existing methods for handling juvenile court referrals. The findings showed a 32 percent decrease in the use of consent and dismissal decisions, indicating that a number of youth whose cases would have formerly been dismissed or handled in a consent fashion were now receiving diversion. On the other hand, only 24 percent of all first offenders were formally processed during the project period, compared to 43 percent during the year prior to project implementation. The major changes occurred with those charged with status or shoplifting offenses. In the preproject period, two-thirds of the first-time offenders charged with runaway were adjudicated compared to 19 percent after project implementation, and 25 percent of those referred for shoplifting offenses and 15 percent of those referred for shoplifting items under $10 were adjudicated prior to project implementation. One might argue that reduction in levels of adjudication in this court may have been due less to the effectiveness of diversion than to the fact that the court routinely adjudicated minor cases. Seventeen percent of first-time status offenders were still being adjudicated after project implementation, and 5 percent of those charged with shoplifting items valued at $10 or less were also being adjudicated. It may be that in the absence of serious crime, the court still desires to maintain a level of cases to perpetuate its image as a social control institution; however, this is done at the expense of relatively minor offenders. Tabular data and 13 references are provided.
Index Term(s): Juvenile court diversion; Program evaluation
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