The Effect of Age on Criminal Processing: Is There an Advantage in Being ‘Older’?

C. Wayne Johnston, Nicholas Alozie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This article uses data on the prefile diversion review of 5, 715 drug offenders to explore the effect of age on criminal processing outcomes. Specifically, the study asks whether older offenders were treated more leniently than younger offenders and to what extent any age-based preferential treatment extended to race/ethnic minorities. Hypotheses on the treatment of younger and older offenders generally and for racial/ethnic groups are tested. The results for the entire sample indicate a positive effect which begins at about age 52. Moreover, there is an elderly effect for whites and Native Americans, but not for blacks and Hispanics. These results introduce a significant caveat in the ubiquitous precept that all older offenders are treated more leniently in criminal processing. They support previous policy questions regarding how much racial/ethnic minority offenders benefit from generally accepted preferential treatment for the older offender. The issues which arise from the preferential treatment has implications for social policy generally andsocialworkersin particular.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-82
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Gerontological Social Work
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 30 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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