Juvenile court context and detention decisions: Reconsidering the role of race, ethnicity, and community characteristics in juvenile court processes

Nancy Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

67 Scopus citations


The relationship between race/ethnicity, community dynamics, and juvenile court processes has long been established. Prior research has relied on city- or county-level measures of community characteristics (e.g., racial composition, poverty) to examine how racial groups are processed within juvenile courts. To date, no study has utilized finer scale measures of geographic areas to examine how characteristics of juveniles' communities impact court decisions. By utilizing official juvenile court data from a city in the southwest, this study draws upon attribution theory to examine how economic and crime community-level measures directly and indirectly influence detention outcomes. Findings reveal that the effect of race and ethnicity in detention outcomes varies across communities, and the effect of ethnicity in detention decisions is mediated by economic community-level measures. The theoretical and policy implications of the study findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-656
Number of pages28
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007



  • Community characteristics
  • Detention decisions
  • Ethnicity
  • Juvenile court context
  • Juvenile court processes
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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