The proposed study will extend recent efforts to examine the effects of social context on youth justice system processing and address the lack of a focus on the macro-structural environments that may partially explain disproportionate levels of youth penetration into the justice system. Specifically, the study will examine how structural and environmental context influences youth risk of arrest and probabilities of conviction and placement. Using a nationally representative survey, the proposed study will test for statistical effects of economic, political, and social factors hypothesized to influence the differential treatment of youth in the justice system, controlling for self-reported levels of delinquent behavior. Additionally, the study will explore the intersection of contextual environments with race and ethnicity and gender, and examine whether some climates disproportionately affect young women of color. The analysis of a nationally representative survey of youth and county- and state- level data that indicate contextual climate will provide a unique opportunity to contribute to the existing research on disproportionate youth contact with the justice system and the increased proportion of young women on court caseloads.
The main dataset for this study will be constructed from the National Longitudinal
Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97). The proposed study will use the data from the NLSY97 rounds 1 through 6 (covering the years 1997 through 2003) with a sample size of 8,984 youths. The data to be analyzed will be created by joining data from the public use National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY97), the restricted use county-level NLSY97 geocode data, and county- and state-specific data from the U.S. Census, Uniform Crime Reports, National Justice Court Archive, Institute for Womens Policy Research, and Kids Count. To take advantage of the longitudinal nature of the NLSY97 data, a combination of multilevel modeling techniques, event history analysis, and generalized linear modeling will be employed to examine the effects of individual characteristics and contextual conditions on youths' risk of arrest and probabilities of conviction and placement.