This study examines the extent to which a juvenile court uses legal, substantive, and discriminatory criteria in assessing dispositions. The indicators of legal criteria are the seriousness of offense and the extent of prior arrest record, of substantive criteria, the presence of family and school problems, and of discriminatory criteria, race and social class. An examination of the dispositions accorded to a sample of 464 fourteen and fifteen year old arrestees in one juvenile court shows that, while discrimination in sentencing is minimal, the court is more likely to use substantive than formal criteria of decisionmaking. These findings suggest that studies of the juvenile court should be reoriented away from their traditional focus on "legal" and "extralegal" determinants of decision making toward a focus on substantive criteria.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Psychiatry and Mental health