The Role of Family Criminality in Sentencing Recommendations




Olaghere, Ajima

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Past studies have indicated having a father arrested was a significant predictor of higher delinquency rates for both males and females. Other studies focusing on the concentration of crime within families have drawn similar results, highlighting fathers coming into contact with the criminal justice system is a significant predictor of future criminality. Still, few studies focus on the collateral impact of mass incarceration upon children as an issue of process and decision making. Furthermore, the nature of this issue, whether bias-oriented or the result of impractical policies, has yet to be explored. The current study focuses on the pre-sentencing investigation component of the criminal justice system, namely, the influence of probation officer recommendations for sanctioning. For the purposes of this study “children of incarcerated parents” is a misnomer and should be understand as children of incarcerated parents regardless of stipulated age in the offense scenarios. Moreover, this following study is concerned with whether family criminality influences the sentencing recommendations among juvenile and adult probation officers nationwide. This is a perception based study which examines the professional opinions of probation officers about the importance of family criminality in formulating sentencing recommendations. The findings extends and affirms the findings of Rodriguez, Smith, & Zatz (2009) revealing a consistent trend of black male defendants being more likely to receive more months recommended for sentencing recommendations for incarceration. Findings also indicate history of family criminality has a significant impact on sentencing recommendations for incarceration. Implications of the research findings and what these findings mean in relation to the process of probation officer decision making is discussed.



Probation officer, Family criminality, Sentencing, Recommendation, Incarceration, Race