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Official Reaction to Juvenile Delinquency. Components of the Juvenile Justice System I: The Police . History of Police Work with Juveniles. Roots are in the English system of policing 1st organized police force established in England in 1829. Called “bobbies”

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official reaction to juvenile delinquency

Official Reaction to Juvenile Delinquency

Components of the Juvenile Justice System I:

The Police

history of police work with juveniles
History of Police Work with Juveniles
  • Roots are in the English system of policing
    • 1st organized police force established in England in 1829. Called “bobbies”
    • Children recognized as a special problem by mid-century
  • Police departments organized in the US by mid-19th century
    • Did not recognize special problems of children until late 19th century
    • During 1960’s, attention to juveniles took on more importance with Supreme Court decisions
    • By 1980’s most dep’ts had special juvenile officers and larger cities had entire juvenile units.
common perceptions of policework
Common Perceptions of Policework

Super Sleuth

Officer in Hot Pursuit

typical police roles with juveniles
One study suggests only 5% of police encounters with juveniles are for felonies; 60% involve nothing more than rowdiness

Juvenile work often involves conflict for the officer because it does not conform to stereotypical roles of law enforcement officer

Typical Police Roles with Juveniles

Peace Keeper

Social Worker

organization of police work with juveniles
Organization of Police Work with Juveniles

Three Broad Types of Organization

  • Juvenile cases handled by the regular police
    • This is the historic pattern
    • Only very small communities have this pattern today
  • Assignment of one or more officers to juvenile cases
    • Became a common strategy in the 70’s and 80’s
    • Officers were specially trained to deal with juveniles
    • Created morale problems as juvenile officers were stigmatized
  • Establishment of separate juvenile units
    • This is the practice of larger departments
    • Often there are subunits, such as drug education, child abuse, crime, missing children, and gang units
police decision making
Police Decision-Making
  • Ideally, officers should make decisions strictly on legally-relevant factors
  • The reality is that they must often use personal discretion
  • Because many of their decisions are “low visibility” there is great potential for bad decisions to be made
factors influencing police decision making
Factors Influencing Police Decision-Making

Legal Factors

Included here are such factors as seriousness of the crime, prior record of the juvenile, and any aggravating or mitigating circumstances

Environmental Factors

Such factors include the general community’s tolerance of youthful misbehavior; policies, practices and customs of the local police department; and alternatives to arrest

Situational Factors

Such factors include the attitude of the juvenile, attitude of the complainant, perceived willingness of parents to cooperate, etc.

Biases and Prejudices

Racial and gender prejudices; and organizational biases resulting from discriminatory police practices

empirical studies of police discrimination piliavin and briar
Empirical Studies of Police Discrimination: Piliavin and Briar
  • For serious offenses, the nature of the offense itself was the primary factor in police disposition
  • For less serious offenses (90% of all police encounters) it was the officer’s assessment of the “character” of the offender.
  • This usually was assessed by demeanor (see table)
empirical studies of police discrimination black and reiss
Empirical Studies of Police Discrimination: Black and Reiss

Found that an arrest is most likely when:

  • the “social distance” between offender and victim is greater
    • family situations--45% arrested
    • friends/neighbors--77% arrested
    • strangers--88% arrested
  • the complainant prefers arrest
    • prefers--50% arrested
    • preference unclear--16% arrested
    • prefered no arrest--0%
  • Suspect fails to show deference
    • “very deferential”--22% arrested
    • “civil”--16% arrested
    • “antagonistic”--22% arrested