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The Criminal Justice System and It's Juvenile Delinquency

If black youths are more likely to be punished as youths, then the influence of recidivism would make it more likely that they will be introduced to crime as a career. Thus, while racism may pervade the entire criminal justice system, its effects may be most insidious in the area of juvenile treatment.

Given the evidence that past criminal behavior is a strong predictor of future criminal behavior, along with the notion that the criminal justice system often serves as a crime academy from which young offenders graduate to criminal careers, it is important to examine how youths are first introduced to crime. It is common for young teens - especially teen boys - to engage in pranks and hi-jinks. Often, these activities can border on or include minor criminal behavior. Rowdiness, drug and alcohol use, vandalism, and petty theft are sometimes rites of passage for teen boys. Since this is fairly regular behavior among youths, such early criminal behavior may not be a good predictor of future behavior. The intervening variable may be involvement with the criminal justice system. That is, youths who are caught and punished for early criminal behavior are more likely to engage in future criminal behavior than those who are not caught and punished. The element of racism enters the equation here. If white youths are more likely to be treated leniently by authorities, who dismiss their behavior as "boys will be boys" hi-jinks, while black youths are treated more seriously and handed over for official treatment, this could go a long way toward explaining the higher adult crime rates among blacks than among whites.

This leads, then, to three separate hypotheses. The first will examine the level of minor criminal activity engaged in by both black and white youths, the second will seek to determine whether there is a difference in official responses to minor criminal activity by black and white youths, and the third will quantify th...

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The Criminal Justice System and It's Juvenile Delinquency. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:27, August 17, 2017, from
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