Predicting Preadjudication Detention Decisions: An Examination of Family Status and Race

Academic Article


  • Since 1988, the U.S. Congress has applied increasing pressure upon states to identify and remedy the causes of disproportionate minority contact. Findings from studies examining the influence of race/ethnicity in juvenile justice processing have been inconsistent, hindering the development of effective policies. One methodological criticism is the assertion that juvenile decision-making models fail to consider the complexities inherent in parens patriae justice. In particular, family characteristics such as the presence of 2 parents may mitigate race/ethnicity effects in decision-making models. In the present research, logistic regression was used to examine the effect of race/ethnicity and family status in the decision to detain 16,338 juveniles in a southwestern state. The results suggest that although family status is significant predictor of detention decisions, race continues to exert a significant and greater effect on the decision to detain. In comparison to legal variables, the effect of race/ethnicity on detention decisions was weak. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • McCoy T; Walker JT; Rodney HE
  • Start Page

  • 87
  • End Page

  • 107
  • Volume

  • 10
  • Issue

  • 2