"youth is enmeshed in a highly dysfunctional family system": Exploring the relationship among dysfunctional families, parental incarceration, and juvenile court decision making

Nancy Rodriguez, Hilary Smith, Marjorie S. Zatz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

61 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although prior work has substantiated the role of external attributes in juvenile court decision making, no study to date has examined how family situational factors as well as maternal and paternal incarceration affect juvenile court officials' responses to troubled youth. Using quantitative and qualitative juvenile court data from a large urban county in the southwest, this study draws on attribution theory to examine how family structure, perceptions of family dysfunction, and parental incarceration influence out-of-home placement decisions. Findings reveal that juvenile court officials' perceptions of good and bad families inform their decision making. This study emphasizes the need to unravel the intricate effects of maternal and paternal incarceration and officials' attributions about families and family structure on juvenile court decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-208
Number of pages32
JournalCriminology
Volume47
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2009

Keywords

  • Family
  • Juvenile court processing
  • Parental incarceration
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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