Evaluating Police-Sponsored Truancy Intervention: A Case Study in Expansion of the Law Enforcement Role in the Socialization and Social Control of Young People

Gordon Bazemore, Florida Atlantic University
Leslie A. Leip, Florida Atlantic University

Increasingly, juvenile justice and police agencies are becoming involved in non-criminal matters related to status offenses by juveniles. Despite two decades of policy initiatives to remove such behavior from the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, boundaries are being redrawn in many states, and criminal and juvenile justice agencies are again assuming responsibility for forms of deviance by young people through such vehicles as smoking courts, curfew enforcement centers, youth drug courts and various forms of truancy intervention. This paper presents findings from a recent evaluation of a local truancy intervention program in Broward County, Florida (Ft. Lauderdale) led by a local law enforcement agency (Broward Sheriffs Office) in partnership with the school board, the Department of Juvenile Justice, and various service provider organizations. Qualitative and quantitative data are presented to address issues of impact and implementation of the truancy reduction intervention. Findings have implications for the limits of the law enforcement and criminal justice role, as well as prospects for innovative policing and community responses to truancy and other problems in youth socialization and social control.

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Updated 05/20/2006