Discretionary Justice: Looking Inside a Juvenile Drug Court

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Rutgers University Press, 2011 - Law - 226 pages
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Juvenile drug courts are on the rise in the United States, as a result of a favorable political climate and justice officials' endorsement of the therapeutic jurisprudence movement--the concept of combining therapeutic care with correctional discipline. The goal is to divert nonviolent youth drug offenders into addiction treatment instead of long-term incarceration. Discretionary Justice overviews the system, taking readers behind the scenes of the juvenile drug court. Based on fifteen months of ethnographic fieldwork and interviews at a California court, Leslie Paik explores the staff's decision-making practices in assessing the youths' cases, concentrating on the way accountability and noncompliance are assessed. Using the concept of "workability," Paik demonstrates how compliance, and what is seen by staff as "noncompliance," are the constructed results of staff decisions, fluctuating budgets, and sometimes questionable drug test results.

While these courts largely focus on holding youths responsible for their actions, this book underscores the social factors that shape how staff members view progress in the court. Paik also emphasizes the perspectives of children and parents. Given the growing emphasis on individual responsibility in other settings, such as schools and public welfare agencies, Paik's findings are relevant outside the juvenile justice system.

 

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Contents

Setting and Methods
17
What Court Day Is He? Intercourt Variations
28
Building Accountability through Assessments
41
Social Construction of Drug Test Results
76
Youth Trajectories in the Court
128
Drug Courts
172
Appendix A Methods
183
Appendix B Concepts and Terms
191
Notes
197
Bibliography
209
Index
217
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Leslie Paik is an assistant professor of sociology at the City College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York.

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