Race, ethnicity, class, and noncompliance with juvenile court supervision

Hilary Smith, Nancy Rodriguez, Marjorie S. Zatz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    27 Scopus citations


    Determination of whether a youth is compliant with the conditions of probation and, if not, how to ensure future compliance is an important intermediate stage in juvenile court decision making. Yet, little is known about the conditions under which noncompliance is or is not documented in the youth's file, what happens to noncompliant youth, and whether documentation of noncompliance is influenced by race and class. Probation officers necessarily make recommendations based on incomplete knowledge, the very circumstances under which research has demonstrated that racial biases are most likely to surface. The authors analyze juvenile court data to examine whether and how documentation of noncompliance is affected by race, ethnicity, and class. Logistic regression demonstrates that black youth and youth from poorer neighborhoods are especially likely to have noncompliance documented. Content analysis of court social files clarifies further how race, class, family structure, and family circumstances affect officials' assessments of youth.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)108-120
    Number of pages13
    JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - May 2009


    • Class
    • Juveniles
    • Probation
    • Race

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Social Sciences(all)


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