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The “true” juvenile offender: Age effects and juvenile court sanctioning
Criminology (2014)
  • Daniel P. Mears
  • Joshua C. Cochran
  • Brian J. Stults
  • Sarah J. Greenman, Hamline University
  • Avinash S. Bhati
  • Mark A. Greenwald
Age is the only factor used to demarcate the boundary between juvenile and adult justice. However, little research has examined how age guides the juvenile court in determining which youth within the juvenile justice system merit particular dispositions, especially those that reflect the court's emphasis on rehabilitation. Drawing on scholarship on the court's origins, attribution theory, and cognitive heuristics, we hypothesize that the court focuses on youth in the middle of the range of the court's age of jurisdiction—characterized in this article as “true” juveniles—who may be viewed as meriting more specialized intervention. We use data from Florida for court referrals in 2008 (N = 71,388) to examine the decision to proceed formally or informally and, in turn, to examine formally processed youth dispositions (dismissal, diversion, probation, commitment, and transfer) and informally processed youth dispositions (dismissal, diversion, and probation). The analyses provide partial support for the hypothesis. The very young were more likely to be informally processed; however, among the informally processed youth, the youngest, not “true” juveniles, were most likely to be diverted or placed on probation. By contrast, among formally processed youth, “true” juveniles were most likely to receive traditional juvenile court responses, such as diversion or probation.
  • juvenile court,
  • age,
  • sanctioning
Publication Date
Citation Information
Daniel P. Mears, Joshua C. Cochran, Brian J. Stults, Sarah J. Greenman, et al.. "The “true” juvenile offender: Age effects and juvenile court sanctioning" Criminology Vol. 52 Iss. 2 (2014) p. 169 - 194 ISSN: 1745-9125
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