Juvenile Court Workgroups: Examining Their Formation and Impact

George W. Burruss, Jr., Georgia Southern University

As juvenile justice reform has become more punitive, researchers have examined the impact on juvenile court sanctioning. Researchers have applied little theory, however, to juvenile court decision making. To address this issue, the present study uses Eisenstein and Jacob's theory of the informal court workigroup to examine three diverse juvenile courts. The theory is tested using qualitative and quantitative data. The results are consistent with workgroup theory: legal and extra-legal factors show varied impact on sanctioning across the three courts. The due process courts are the more cohesive workgroups with consistent output standards. The parens patriae oriented court is a less cohesive workgroup where a single factor predicts an out-of-home placement. The implications for workgroup theory applied to the juvenile court and justice by geography are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006