Gendered Application of Contempt as a Justification for Securely Detaining Juveniles

M. Dyan McGuire, St. Louis University

Several theorists have hypothesized that juvenile court judges are circumventing the proscription of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act ("JJDPA"), which prohibits the secure confinement of status offenders, by securely detaining status offenders for contempt. It has also been suggested that girls may be especially likely to be securely detained as a result of violating a valid court order. This study uses descriptive and multivariate techniques to examine the demographic and legal variables associated with receiving secure detention for violating a valid court order and to assess the degree to which the spirit, if not the letter, of the JJDPA's core requirement of deinstitutionalizing status offenders is being violated because of the exemption permitting juvenile court judges to securely detain children found in contempt.

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Updated 05/20/2006