Essay about Juvenile Justice

Order Original Essay

How it works

By far the most common form of direct racial bias that Tim will come into contact with, is racial profiling, whereby authorities use stereotypes about a person’s race to single them out for greater scrutiny. Given that Tim’s neighborhood shows clear signs of social disorganization, it can be inferred that there are likely more police patrols in his city, due to the high crime rate. Jones-Brown, Stoudt, Johnston, & Moran (2013) identify “stop, question, and frisk” encounters that Tim is more likely to have in his neighborhood, often while performing mundane activities (i.e., walking to and from school).

Support for this position begins with Goldkamp (1982) and his two belief perspectives that are an attempt to understand why Tim is more likely than Bobby to have an encounter with the police. For the purposes of this analysis, Belief Perspective One holds more intrinsic worth. Goldkamp’s Belief Perspective One posits that there is a difference in the way law enforcement interacts with minorities, suggesting prejudice and bias. Support for this can be found within the data tables provided in the textbook, where minorities are overrepresented in deadly encounters with the police (Table 4.3, Gabbidon 2019) and have more involuntary and negative interactions during traffic or investigatory stops (Table 4.5, Gabbidon 2019).

One suggestion to consider in an effort to curb racial bias amongst police officers, may be mandatory evaluation of interracial encounters throughout each officer’s probationary period, especially if the department is located in a neighborhood with (1) historically negative relations with the police and (2) patrolling tends to be more pronounced. A secondary recommendation comes from Gove (2015), who suggests that a comprehensive program that focuses on impartial policing practices may curb this problem. However, it could be said that mandated courses that focus on race-related policing issues that will make officers more aware of their bias and how it can negatively affect the community they serve may prove beneficial, as well. This could vary between departments, or it can take place through structural reforms of police academies.


Should Tim ever be arrested during an encounter with the police, there is a bevy of evidence to suggest that he will receive much harsher treatment than Bobby surrounding pretrial decisions and bail. The research surrounding whether or not this is due to direct, “extra-legal factors” or indirect legal factors, according to Gabbidon, is mixed (Spohn, 2014). It is contended that some of this has to do with flaws in the way the research was conducted in the early 2000s. However, in 2004, Demuth and Steffensmeier rectified this by separately analyzing pretrial release decisions and their outcomes – something earlier research failed to do. They found that, with “four years of data concerning felons charged in state courts in the 75 most populous counties,” that Black (and Hispanic) defendants were more likely to receive decisions like higher bail amounts, thereby discouraging their release, than Whites (Gabbidon, 2019). Other studies echoed this result; however, the consensus is that Hispanics receive the least favorable pretrial release decisions (Turner & Johnson, 2005; Schlesinger, 2005; Freiburger & Hilinski, 2010). Research by Wooldredge (2012), compounded by findings by Liu, Johnson, and Vidmar (2014), showed that (1) young Black males aged eighteen to twenty-nine were les likely to be released on their own recognizance, (2) they were assigned higher bond amounts, and (3) Blacks stayed in jail longer than Whites when they could not post bond (Wooldridge, 2012; Liu, Johnson, & Vidmar, 2014, as quoted by Gabbidon 2019).

There is additional evidence, however, that points to these statistics as stemming from indirect racial bias. Freiburger and Hilinski (2010) noted that when accounting for economic variables, discrepancies surrounding race disappear. Wooldredge, Frank, and Goulette (2017) presented findings that indicate Tim would be at an increased risk because he lived in a socially disadvantaged neighborhood, citing issues that could stem from such a background (large number of African-American residents, leading to higher odds of pretrial detention, and so on).

One way of preventing this type of discrimination from taking place, is to perhaps impose a bail and pretrial release standard, dependent upon the nature of the crime, and the judge’s previous handling of said case. This way, a judge is mandated to remain consistent, else their judgement be subject to scrutiny by whomever. The media, the offender’s family, defense council, and so on.


Under the assumption that Tim will be committing a host of misdemeanor crimes until he reaches adulthood, it seems imperative that his level of risk should be examined as it pertains to misdemeanor sentencing. There is evidence to suggest that indirect factors, such as prior record and seriousness of the offense committed, determine the severity of the sentence – in fact, in the text, Gabbidon notes that these factors were the best indicators. However, there exists some research to suggest the opposite, as well (Munoz & McMorris 2002; Leiber & Blowers 2003; Brennan 2006).

Golub, Johnson, and Dunlap (2007) specifically examined whether misdemeanor marijuana arrests in New York City from 1980 to 2003 discriminated against African Americans and Hispanics. Not only were these two ethnic groups overrepresented among arrests, they were more likely than Whites to be detained and two times more likely to be convicted. Given that the number of African Americans sentenced for drug charges increased by 700 percent from 1985 to 1995 (Shelden & Brown 2003), it can be inferred that Tim, should he be caught with something like marijuana, will bear a harsher sentence than Bobby might.

One obvious way to lower this type of bias is to legalize marijuana in its entirety, and forgive such offenses, allowing non-violent offenders back into their community, possibly using the revenue from the now legalized marijuana to fund programs that will help them to assimilate back into society. If this idea is so blasphemous to the outside world, however, it may prove equally as beneficial to prevent judges from sentencing non-violent drug offenders to prison (especially for such offenses like simple possession). Any such punishment, then, should be free of any judicial discretion, and only a fine based on the amount of paraphernalia found on the offender will be issued.

Due to the fact Tim is African American, male, and lives in a likely high-crime, socially disorganized neighborhood, he’s at risk for falling victim to the “school-to-prison pipeline,” (SPP) a term used to describe the relationship between “school punishments…and an increased likelihood of confinement in either a juvenile institution, adult prison, or both” (Gabbidon 2019). Per the Children’s Defense Fund (2013), Tim’s pipeline may begin at birth, as African American and Hispanic youths have a greater lifetime risk. There is considerable research that suggests this increased risk can be partially attributed to teacher’s implicit bias and misconceptions about Black and Hispanic youth, for example (Kirwan Institute, 2014; Payne & Welch, 2010; Skiba, Michael, Nardo, & Peterson, 2002, as cited by Gabbidon 2019). As Tim’s school is likely to have a high population of African-American students, he’s at risk for being exposed to exclusionary school discipline, more often than Bobby might – the text suggests that this is true even if they happened to attend the same institution (Kupchik, 2009; Payne & Welch, 2010; Welch & Payne, 2012, as cited by Gabbidon, 2019).

Though money is scarce in socially disorganized neighborhoods with high crime rates, as opposed to using the harshest punishment as a deterrent (which, among minority youths may simply be utilized to establish status), it may behoove some districts to simply hire a counselor, who is equipped with the necessary tools to integrate those who commit delinquent acts in school, into an activity of their choosing. Ideally, a network of volunteers from the community would be of some assistance in waiving costs, transportation issues, and so on. For schools that simply do not have the required infrastructure, however, removing all disciplinary discretion for school officials is the only way to ensure absolute removal of bias. A focus on fair, consistent treatment will likely curb a large percentage of delinquent acts, especially those unassociated with gang culture. Simply, respect the humanity in children and young adolescents, and strive to teach them lessons from their actions, as opposed to punishing them (or not punishing them) with reckless abandon.

Did you like this example?

Cite this page

Essay About Juvenile Justice. (2020, Feb 16). Retrieved from

The deadline is too short to read someone else's essay

Hire a verified expert to write you a 100% Plagiarism-Free paper