Gender and the Likelihood of Being Securely Detained for Contempt

Authors

  • M. DYAN MCGUIRE PH.D. J.D.,

    Corresponding author
    1. professor in the Sociology and Criminal Justice Department at Saint Louis University. She has worked as a prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, and judicial clerk. Her research interests include race and sex discrimination within the criminal and juvenile justice systems.
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  • KATHRYN E. KUHN PH.D.

    Corresponding author
    1. associate professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Saint Louis University. She has served as acting director and is currently a member of the Women's Studies faculty. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests include gender and women's issues as well as white collar and corporate crime.
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3Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice Saint Louis University Fitzgerald Hall, Room 202 3500 Lindell Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63103

4Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice Saint Louis University Fitzgerald Hall, Room 202 3500 Lindell Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63103

ABSTRACT

Several theorists have hypothesized that juvenile court judges are circumventing the proscription contained in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (“JJDPA”), which prohibits the secure confinement of status offenders by securely detaining status offenders for contempt. It has also been suggested that girls may be especially likely to be securely detained as a result of violating a valid court order. This study uses descriptive and multivariate techniques to examine the demographic, legal, and jurisdictional variables associated with receiving secure detention for violating a valid court order and to evaluate the degree to which the spirit, if not the letter, of the JJDPA's core requirement of deinstitutionalizing status offenders is being violated because of the exemption permitting juvenile court judges to securely detain children found in contempt. The findings from this study indicate that being female does not contribute to detention for contempt but being accused of a status offense does. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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