By Michael J. Leiber
Explores the contexts of judges' choice making in juvenile courts that incarcerate disproportionately extra minorities than whites.
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Additional resources for The Contexts of Juvenile Justice Decision Making: When Race Matters
Alternatively, while conflict theory does take these factors into account, it does not adequately explain the determinants of social reactions and the role and use of stereotypical images to guide decision making and social control (Bell and Lang, 1985; Tittle and Curran, 1988; Leiber and Stairs, 1999). More importantly, the conflict perspective treats race as a proxy for class (Hawkins, 1987:722–724; see also Daly and Tonry, 1997). In simplistic terms, underlying conflict theory’s emphasis on economic conditions is the belief that African Americans are more likely to be involved in the system because they make up a larger portion of the poor and are more criminal either due to impoverishment or powerlessness (cf.
Urban environments are characterized by rational formal justice and by greater adherence to legal criteria. Rural environments, on the other hand, are thought to depend on substantive rationality, whereby formal bureaucracy is lacking and informal criteria and legally irrelevant factors inform decision making. Thus, African Americans should experience lower rates of intervention in urban settings than rural settings once differences in levels of crime are considered. Others, however, have argued just the opposite: urban courts will evidence greater racial discrimination than rural courts.
2000). In the 1980s, celebrity criminal cases, sometimes involving youth, and increases in crime, especially among juveniles in general and younger youth in particular, paved the way for the growing dissatisfaction with the traditional parens patriae approach of the juvenile justice system (Rubin, 1985; Bernard, 1992; Snyder and Sickmund, 1999). , 1986; Farrington, 1986; Champion, 1994; Fagan and Zimring, 2000). The increase in the levels of accountability, together with the “war on drugs,” had dramatic consequences for the detection and involvement of minorities especially, African Americans, in both the criminal and juvenile justice systems (Chambliss, 1995; Tonry, 1995; Miller, 1996; Humphries, 1999; Stahl, 1999).
The Contexts of Juvenile Justice Decision Making: When Race Matters by Michael J. Leiber