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Labeling theory studies have generally focused on the creation of secondary deviance through the process of internalizing the applied label. The combination of labeling theory studies focusing on secondary deviance and the belief that labeling theory was 'dead' as of the 1980s has created a dearth of research regarding the impact of labels on criminal or juvenile justice processing. The purpose of the current study is to determine if there is a relationship between the gang member label and juvenile justice decisions at three stages: (1) intake, (2) disposition, and (3) incarceration release. There are a total of five primary findings related to the impact of the gang member label on juvenile justice recommendations and incarceration length. Three of the five findings are significant (p<.05), including one intake decision, one disposition decision, and the length of incarceration. These three findings all support the hypothesis that the gang member label increases the severity of the recommendation and the number of days incarcerated. Variables representing the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice staffs' perception of offender attitudes are incorporated into the analyses to determine if these variables mediate the hypothesized relationship between the gang member label and juvenile justice decisions. The findings weakly support the hypothesis that perceptions of the offenders will partially mediate the relationship between the gang member label and recommendation severity or the number of days incarcerated. However, the variables only mediate a small portion of the impact of the gang member label on the dependent variables. Finally, interaction terms are included in the analyses to see if the hypothesized impact of the gang member label on juvenile justice decision-making varies based on individual characteristics (e.g., race, sex). The hypothesis that the impact of the gang member label will vary based on demographic characteristics is largely unsupported.
Criminal justice, Administration of
Labeling, Gangs, Juveniles
Date of Defense
April 19, 2010.
A Dissertation Submitted to the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Gary Kleck, Professor Directing Dissertation; Irene Padavic, University Representative; William Bales, Committee Member; William Doerner, Committee Member.
Florida State University
Quinn, S. T. (2010). The Gang Member Label and Juvenile Justice Decision-Making. Retrieved from http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_migr_etd-2245