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Police Encounters With Juveniles

Irving Piliavin and Scott Briar
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 70, No. 2 (Sep., 1964), pp. 206-214
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2775210
Page Count: 9
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Police Encounters With Juveniles
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Abstract

In an observational study of police officers' contacts with juveniles the authors reached these conclusion: (1) Wide discretion was exercised by policemen in dealing with youthful offeders. (2) The exercise of this discretion was affected by a few readily observable criteria, including boys' prior offense records, race, grooming, and demeanor. Among first offenders particularly, but to some degree among all offenders, a youth's demeanor was a major criterion for determining what police disposition he would be given. Officers estimated that 50-60 per cent of first offense dispositions were based on this criterion. (3) The differential in arrest and apprehension rates between Negroes and whites was not simply a consequence of a greater offense rate among the former or police bias. To some extent this differential was due to the fact that Negroes more often than Caucasians exhibited those aspects of demeanor associated by officers with "true" delinquent boys.

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