Gendered Decision-Making Practices in the Juvenile Justice System

By Paraschiv, Gavril | Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice, January 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Gendered Decision-Making Practices in the Juvenile Justice System


Paraschiv, Gavril, Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice


ABSTRACT.

I am specifically interested in how previous research investigated the multifarious nature of criminal onset, the increasingly structured approach to juvenile justice decision-making, the social threat of juvenile crime, and the role of parents in delinquency cases. My analysis complements the growing literature on gendered decision-making practices that influence the likelihood of detection and referral to the juvenile justice system, the unconscious gender discrimination in juvenile justice systems, the mechanics of the juvenile justice process, and girls' involvement in the juvenile justice system.

Keywords: juvenile justice system, gender, antisocial, inequity

1. Introduction

This research makes conceptual and methodological contributions to the youth's antisocial development, the connections between behavioral onset and its police and judicial analogs, the mechanisms by which juveniles reach criminal court, and LGBT youth involved in the juvenile justice system. The purpose of this study is to examine gendered decision-making practices that influence entry into the juvenile justice system, the sexual orientation and/ or gender identity of LGBT youth, the rehabilitative view of the juvenile justice system, and the criminal behavior of juvenile offenders. The mainstay of the paper is formed by an analysis of the differences between the profiles and service needs of girls and boys entering the juvenile justice system, the complexities and limitations of the data-driven movement in juvenile justice, gender inequities in juvenile justice systems, and the rehabilitative goals of the juvenile justice system. The theory that I shall seek to elaborate here puts considerable emphasis on the effectiveness of treatment programs for juvenile offenders, the key role of the treatment com- ponent in reducing the subsequent criminal behavior of juvenile offenders, juvenile justice systems in the United States, and prevention as an essential part of an effective strategy for addressing juvenile delinquency in any community.

2. The Criminal Behavior of Juvenile Offenders

Champion contends that each jurisdiction in the United States1 has its own methods for processing juvenile offenders. Violations of the laws pertaining only to juveniles are status offenses. The juvenile justice system consists of all of the processes involved whenever juveniles come into contact with law enforcement. The concept of juvenile justice has different meanings for individual states and for the federal government. Criminal court actions have harsher long-term consequences for offenders compared with juvenile court proceedings.2 DeLisi et al. state that the more antisocial the individual,3 the earlier the onset of antisociality. Criminal onset has been linked to a variety of behavioral, psychological, and dispositional outcomes. An individual's first arrest almost never coincides in time and place with their antisocial behavioral onset. "Early starters are often raised in home environments characterized by multiple forms of family dysfunction, are more likely to display temperamental and self-regulatory deficits, are prone to eliciting and engaging in aversive social interactions, are likely to evince more serious and more sustained conduct problems, and are more likely to experience early contact by and involvement in the juvenile justice system."4

As Lipsey et al. put it, the intertwined goals of juvenile justice should be ensuring public safety5 and altering the life trajectories of those juveniles to reduce further criminal behavior and to improve their chances to prosper as productive citizens. Dealing effectively with juvenile delinquency involves prevention and intervention. Prevention is community-based activities aimed at helping youth avoid delinquent behavior.

All of this can be taken as evidence of the recognition that the focus of prevention efforts is on youth who may be at risk for delinquent behavior. …

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