An Exploratory Study of the Effects of Legal and Extra-Legal Factors on Rural Juvenile Justice Processing

Tricia Klosky, Illinois State University

To date little research has focused on the multiple states of the juvenile justice system, while also considering how extra-legal variables effect rural juvenile justice processing. While a few studies have examined the effects of extra-legal factors, such as size of the community, gender, school performance, gang affiliation, and psychiatric care, on juvenile justice decision-making, those studies did not look at the entire juvenile justice system. Further, those few existing studies were conducted n large metropolitan areas. This study examines the effects of legal and extra-legal factors on rural juvenile justice processing by using data collected from two different sources: police contact files and probation files. The final sample includes 338 cases from juveniles who had their first petition from 1995 to 1997. This exploratory study will examine: 1) which factors are relevant in determining juvenile case processing for different groups of juveniles; and 2) how those factors might suggest other types of sanctioning outcomes for those juveniles.

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Updated 05/20/2006