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The effects of age, race, and offense type on receiving a 'youth discount' in juvenile court.

NCJ Number
Journal of Crime & Justice Dated: 2021
Date Published

Using all individual referrals in a Southern state from 2010–2016, the current study investigated the individual and joint effects of a juvenile’s age, race, and the handling of status offenders across petition and dispositional case outcomes.


Previous research has suggested that younger justice-involved youth are generally viewed as less blameworthy, less cognitively developed, and more likely to respond to treatment or services by the juvenile justice system than their older youth counterparts. As a result, younger juveniles may be more likely to receive lenient treatment at several juvenile court stages compared to older youth (i.e., ‘youth discount’); however, less research has investigated whether the ‘youth discount’ is equally applied across racial groups and youth charged with different offenses (i.e., status versus delinquent). Results of the current study indicate that the youth discount applied at the petition stage but not disposition. The findings also suggest that race and offense type are more predictive of decision-making than the age of the juvenile. These findings and their implications for understanding the complexities of juvenile justice decision-making are discussed. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2021