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NIJ FY06 ORE Crime and Justice Research

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2006, $78,933)

Despite various federal and state legislation aimed at producing equitable treatment of juveniles within the juvenile court system, studies continue to find that race and ethnicity play a significant role in juvenile court outcomes. Juvenile court differences in philosophy, orientation, and structure make it possible for racial/ethnic disparities to exist within and between courts, including more traditional, parens patriae and more formal, due process courts. Unfortunately, few studies of juvenile court processes have relied on cross-jurisdictional data to examine how court context influences juvenile court decisions.
Methods and Research Design:
The focus of this proposed project is to conduct a multilevel system analysis of juvenile court decisions in Arizona by relying on three levels of data (i.e., individual, census tract, county). The study will examine how race/ethnicity at the individual level and community characteristics such as racial composition, economic conditions, and crime influence diversion, petition, detention, adjudication, and disposition decisions within and between juvenile courts throughout the state. This study also seeks to integrate statewide adult criminal history information to juvenile court data to examine how juvenile court outcomes affect recidivism of juveniles post age 18. A random sample of 5,000 juvenile referrals to the Arizona juvenile courts during 2000 will be drawn to conduct the proposed study. Data for this project will come from the Arizona Juvenile On-Line Tracking System (JOLTS) database, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and 2000 U.S. Census data.
Anticipated Benefits:
The proposed project has local, state, and national importance. Findings from this project will direct juvenile justice agencies to existing practices that may directly or indirectly disadvantage particular juveniles (e.g., racial/ethnic minorities, girls, the poor). Justice officials will be able to use the findings from this comprehensive review of juvenile court processes to encourage policy and programmatic changes in the juvenile justice system. An examination of court processes within and between jurisdictions is particularly relevant to state officials who are mandated to examine disproportionate minority contact (DMC) in their respective juvenile justice systems. This study will also identify which juvenile court outcomes contribute to juvenile offenders' recidivism post age 18. Ultimately, findings will assist in developing procedures that provide equitable treatment to all juveniles and reduce the likelihood of continued criminality into adulthood. Final products of this study will include an NIJ final report, publications in professional-orientated and peer-reviewed journals, and a web-based report.


Date Created: August 30, 2006