“YOUTH IS ENMESHED IN A HIGHLY DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY SYSTEM”: EXPLORING THE RELATIONSHIP AMONG DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILIES, PARENTAL INCARCERATION, AND JUVENILE COURT DECISION MAKING

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Abstract:

Although prior work has substantiated the role of external attributes in juvenile court decision making, no study to date has examined how family situational factors as well as maternal and paternal incarceration affect juvenile court officials' responses to troubled youth. Using quantitative and qualitative juvenile court data from a large urban county in the southwest, this study draws on attribution theory to examine how family structure, perceptions of family dysfunction, and parental incarceration influence out-of-home placement decisions. Findings reveal that juvenile court officials' perceptions of good and bad families inform their decision making. This study emphasizes the need to unravel the intricate effects of maternal and paternal incarceration and officials' attributions about families and family structure on juvenile court decision making.

Keywords: family; juvenile court processing; parental incarceration; race

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-9125.2009.00142.x

Affiliations: 1: School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Arizona State University 2: Department of Sociology, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs 3: School of Justice and Social Inquiry, Arizona State University

Publication date: February 1, 2009

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