Impact of Gender on Attribution Assignment in the Processing of Juvenile Offenders: Preliminary Findings)

Stacy L. Mallicoat, University of Colorado - Boulder

The sentencing process in the juvenile court system is one of mystery and conrusion, with the philosophy of "in the best interest of the child" presiding over the proceedings. Recent research has focused on how attributional characteristics influence the use of stereotypes in the decision making process, particularly in relation to race and gender inequalities. The use of such stereotypes for some youth and not for others encourages differential perceptions, which, in turn have led to inequalities in sentencing decisions. Drawing from pre-sentencing investigative reports written by probation officers for juvenile offenders sentenced to probation, this paper focuses on the question of how male and female juvenile offenders are processed unequally by the court system as a result of differential perceptions by court personnel. I investigate how the use of gender stereotypes disproportionately impacts not only the pathways of male and female offenders to a sentence of probation, but also the terms and conditions in sentencing recommendations and decisions.

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Updated 05/20/2006