1st Edition

Explaining Variation in Juvenile Punishment The Role of Communities and Systems

By Steven N. Zane Copyright 2022
    214 Pages
    by Routledge

    214 Pages
    by Routledge

    This research monograph provides a comparative analysis of juvenile court outcomes, exploring the influence of contextual factors on juvenile punishment across systems and communities. In doing so, it investigates whether, how, and to what extent macro-social context influences variation in juvenile punishment. The contextual hypotheses under investigation evaluate three prominent macro-sociall theoretical approaches: the conflict-oriented perspective of community threat, the consensus-oriented perspective of social disorganization, and the organizational perspective of the political economy of the juvenile court.

    Using multilevel modeling techniques, the study investigates these macro-social influences on juvenile justice outcomes across nearly 500 counties in seven states—Alabama, Connecticut, Missouri, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. Findings suggest that the contextual indicators under investigation did not explain variation in juvenile court punishment across communities and systems, and the study proposes several implications for future research and policy.

    This monograph is essential reading for scholars of juvenile justice system impact and reform as well as practitioners engaged in youth policy and juvenile justice work. It is unique in taking a comparative perspective that acknowledges that there is no one juvenile justice system in the United States, but many such systems.

    Introduction: The Context of Juvenile Punishment

    The Present Study
    Book Overview

    Chapter 1: The Mission and History of Juvenile Justice

    Origins of Juvenile Justice
    The First Juvenile Court
    Child Saving: The Interventionist Vision of Juvenile Justice
    The Failure of the Interventionist Vision
    The Due Process Revolution
    The Criminalization of Juvenile Justice
    A More Punitive Juvenile Court
    The Developmental Turn: Juvenile Justice in the Twenty-First Century

    Chapter 2: The Contemporary Structure of Juvenile Justice

    Juvenile Referrals
    Preadjudication Detention
    Intake and Petition of Delinquency
    Waiver to Criminal Court
    Adjudication of Delinquency
    Judicial Disposition
    State Variation in Juvenile Justice Processing

    Chapter 3: Why Might Context Matter? Theoretical Perspectives on Juvenile Justice

    Theoretical Frameworks for Juvenile Justice
    Contextual Theories of Juvenile Justice

    Chapter 4: Exploring the Influence of Community Characteristics: A Review of the Literature

    Minority Threat
    Economic Threat
    Other Contextual Characteristics

    Chapter 5: Data, Methods, and Analytical Approach

    Research Hypotheses
    Data and Sample
    Analytical Strategy

    Chapter 6: Multistate Findings, 2010

    Variation in Juvenile Justice Outcomes
    Contextual Effects
    Summary of Findings

    Chapter 7: Multistate Results, 2000

    Variation in Juvenile Justice Outcomes
    Contextual Effects
    Summary of Findings

    Chapter 8: State-Specific Results

    County-Level Variation in Juvenile Justice Outcomes
    Contextual Effects
    Summary of Findings

    Chapter 9: Does Context Matter? Discussing the Findings

    Summary of Findings
    State Variation in Juvenile Justice Outcomes
    Study Limitations
    Interpretation of Findings

    Chapter 10: Implications for Research and Policy

    Implications for Research
    Implications for Policy
    Concluding Thoughts



    Steven N. Zane, Ph.D., J.D., is an assistant professor in the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University. He received his Ph.D. from Northeastern University and his J.D. from Boston College Law School. His research focuses on juvenile justice, racial disparities, and evidence-based social policy, and has appeared in Criminology & Public Policy, JAMA Network Open, Journal of Criminal Justice, Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Justice Quarterly, and Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice.