Gatekeepers of the Juvenile Justice System: Intake Officers, Decision-Making and Racial Disparities in the Juvenile Justice System

dc.creatorCourtney Porter
dc.description.abstractMinority youth are overrepresented within the juvenile justice system at all decision points including arrests, referrals to juvenile court, diversion, adjudication, probation placement, secure detention placement, and cases transferred to adult court. Practitioners and researchers have made strides to explain and address these disparities by focusing on the processes and factors influencing decisions at each stage of the justice process. Expanding upon past research, this study used a multilevel model to analyze more than 23,000 intake records from Fairfax County, Virginia’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. Controlling for numerous demographic and case characteristics, this dissertation explored the direct and interactive effects of the race/ethnicity of youth and the race of Juvenile Intake Officers (JIOs) on intake outcomes. The results indicated that legal factors including the seriousness of offense and the number of offenses were strong predictors of whether a youth was diverted or petitioned to court. However, race and ethnicity of the youth also mattered. Findings indicated that JIOs were less likely to divert both Black and Hispanic youth compared to White youth. Further investigation on the race/ethnicity of the JIO found that Juvenile Intake Officers of color were more likely to divert youth compared to White JIOs. Other results indicated that JIOs were more likely to divert females and younger youth, and that JIOs with more work experience diverted youth at higher rates. When I investigated the interaction effects of youths’ race/ethnicity and JIOs’ race/ethnicity, there were no significant findings. Based on focus groups with current intake officers, the study also explored additional factors that may influence JIOs’ decision to divert. The implications of the results for research and practice are discussed.
dc.titleGatekeepers of the Juvenile Justice System: Intake Officers, Decision-Making and Racial Disparities in the Juvenile Justice System, Law and Society Mason University


Original bundle
Now showing 1 - 1 of 1
Thumbnail Image
1.39 MB
Adobe Portable Document Format