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Race and Juvenile Justice Processing in Court and Police Agencies

Dale Dannefer and Russell K. Schutt
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 87, No. 5 (Mar., 1982), pp. 1113-1132
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2778420
Page Count: 20
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Race and Juvenile Justice Processing in Court and Police Agencies
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Abstract

Studies of race bias in the juvenile justice system have yielded contradictory and inconclusive findings. The diversity of findings, though due in part to inadequacies in the methods used in pervious studies, is also attributable in part to the differential possibilities for bias in different settings. This paper develops and tests hypotheses that specify two conditions which affect the likelihood of bias: the characteristics and procedural constraints of processing agencies and the characteristics of their social environments. Long-linear analysis is used, to allow simultaneous control for the influence ofprior record, type of allgation, family type, sex, race, and country in analyzing data from police and court records in a populous eastern state. Consistent with the hypotheses, the findings indicate that racial bias is more apparent in police dispositions than in judicial decisions. In the more urban ofthe two social settings studied, minorities constitute a relatively high proportion of the population; police bias is especially pronounced there. In thesame setting, however, this bias may be compensated for, to some extent, by the courts.

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