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Voice, neutrality, respect, and trust: Assessing the association between observed measures of procedural justice at adjudication and youth outcomes in juvenile court cases
AuthorKnoche, Victoria Alexandria
AdvisorMarsh, Shawn C.
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With nearly 850,500 juveniles appearing in court each year, it is important to examine how court proceedings might be associated with juveniles’ outcomes. Procedural justice suggests that how individuals and their problems are handled by the court system, greatly influences whether they accept and follow court rulings. Research has primarily explored perceived procedural justice; however, it is important that juveniles are not merely perceiving procedural justice when the court processes are objectively unfair. This study examined how observed procedural justice, judge-juvenile interactions/conversations, juvenile/judicial demographics and demographic match were associated with juveniles’ short-term behavioral outcomes. Participants (n = 86) were juveniles with cases adjudicated at Pima County Juvenile Court Center in Arizona and data was collected via audio recorded adjudication hearings and case file review. First, results suggest that an increase in explaining court etiquette/rules at the beginning of the hearing, providing an overview of what might happen during court, and using plain language to explain case procedure/outcomes were associated with increased odds of successful termination. Additionally, an increase in using plain language to explain case procedure/outcomes was associated with an increase in continuances and case length. An increase in providing an explanation for their actions was associated with a decrease in system contact, case length, and continuances. Second, longest conversation was associated with an increase in using plain language to explain the case procedure/outcome. Additionally, number of interactions and percent of hearing conversation in a trial were associated an increase in; and number of conversations was associated with a decrease in explaining court etiquette/rules at the beginning of the hearing. Lastly, race of the judge and female judges were associated with a decrease in; and years on bench was associated with an increase in average length of judge-juvenile conversation. Additionally, race of the juvenile was associated with a decrease in number of judge-juvenile interactions. Female juveniles and prior system involvement were associated with an increase in; and juvenile age was associated with a decrease in shortest judge-juvenile conversation. These results suggest that observed procedural justice and aspects of judge-juvenile interaction are key factors in short-term success for justice involved juveniles.