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Legal Consciousness in Juvenile Delinquency Court: How Parents and Children Develop Views of Law and Justice through Court Experiences and Family Interaction

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Abstract:

The juvenile court system depends upon parents and children perceiving that the court’s power is legitimate and that the justice system will act fairly. Although parents are often required to attend all court hearings involving their delinquent child, research has not examined how these parents experience the juvenile court system and discuss concepts of law and justice with their children. Perceptions of fairness in court systems differ sharply by race, with only fifteen percent of African-Americans with recent court experience believing that court outcomes are always or usually fair compared with nearly half of whites (Rottman and Hansen 2001). As children from urban minority communities are disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system (Feld 1999), it is critical to understand how these understandings of the court develop and under what circumstances parents’ perceptions of the court’s legitimacy increase or decrease. Socio-legal research has shown that people create meaning for themselves through their interactions with the law and their experiences with legal institutions (Ewick and Silbey 1998). Little is known about how experiences in the legal progress affect parents’ perceptions of the court’s legitimacy and how families discuss concepts of legitimacy and justice as they process through the juvenile delinquency system. Since parents are one of children’s primary socializing agents, how parents perceive law and justice may strongly influence their children’s moral and political beliefs (Henning 2005). This research examines how parents and children think about, understand, and discuss the law as they process through the juvenile justice system and how perceptions of legitimacy and legal values are shared and developed through family interaction.

This qualitative study follows twenty families in one urban juvenile court who have a child entering the juvenile justice system on a new charge of delinquency. By interviewing multiple members of each family at different points during the juvenile court process, this in-depth research is able to examine the complex nature of legitimacy and justice and how law’s meaning is created and shaped. Interviews are supplemented by observations of both court proceedings and meetings the defense attorney has with the family to gain a more complete understanding of how the juvenile justice process is being experienced by these families. Using the framework of legal consciousness, interviews with parents and delinquent youth focus on how participants create meaning for themselves through experiences with the law and interaction within their family network and how participants help to shape the culture meaning of juvenile justice. This study explores the development of the individual legal consciousness of both parents and children as well as how a family-level legal consciousness emerges through their participation in the delinquency process.
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Association:
Name: The Law and Society Association
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http://www.lawandsociety.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p407150_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Pennington, Liana. "Legal Consciousness in Juvenile Delinquency Court: How Parents and Children Develop Views of Law and Justice through Court Experiences and Family Interaction" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, Renaissance Chicago Hotel, Chicago, IL, May 27, 2010 <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p407150_index.html>

APA Citation:

Pennington, L. J. , 2010-05-27 "Legal Consciousness in Juvenile Delinquency Court: How Parents and Children Develop Views of Law and Justice through Court Experiences and Family Interaction" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, Renaissance Chicago Hotel, Chicago, IL <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p407150_index.html

Publication Type: Work in Progress Paper
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: The juvenile court system depends upon parents and children perceiving that the court’s power is legitimate and that the justice system will act fairly. Although parents are often required to attend all court hearings involving their delinquent child, research has not examined how these parents experience the juvenile court system and discuss concepts of law and justice with their children. Perceptions of fairness in court systems differ sharply by race, with only fifteen percent of African-Americans with recent court experience believing that court outcomes are always or usually fair compared with nearly half of whites (Rottman and Hansen 2001). As children from urban minority communities are disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system (Feld 1999), it is critical to understand how these understandings of the court develop and under what circumstances parents’ perceptions of the court’s legitimacy increase or decrease. Socio-legal research has shown that people create meaning for themselves through their interactions with the law and their experiences with legal institutions (Ewick and Silbey 1998). Little is known about how experiences in the legal progress affect parents’ perceptions of the court’s legitimacy and how families discuss concepts of legitimacy and justice as they process through the juvenile delinquency system. Since parents are one of children’s primary socializing agents, how parents perceive law and justice may strongly influence their children’s moral and political beliefs (Henning 2005). This research examines how parents and children think about, understand, and discuss the law as they process through the juvenile justice system and how perceptions of legitimacy and legal values are shared and developed through family interaction.

This qualitative study follows twenty families in one urban juvenile court who have a child entering the juvenile justice system on a new charge of delinquency. By interviewing multiple members of each family at different points during the juvenile court process, this in-depth research is able to examine the complex nature of legitimacy and justice and how law’s meaning is created and shaped. Interviews are supplemented by observations of both court proceedings and meetings the defense attorney has with the family to gain a more complete understanding of how the juvenile justice process is being experienced by these families. Using the framework of legal consciousness, interviews with parents and delinquent youth focus on how participants create meaning for themselves through experiences with the law and interaction within their family network and how participants help to shape the culture meaning of juvenile justice. This study explores the development of the individual legal consciousness of both parents and children as well as how a family-level legal consciousness emerges through their participation in the delinquency process.


Similar Titles:
Controlling Other People’s Children: Racial Typification of Delinquency and Public Views about Juvenile Justice

Understanding and Valuing Family-Level Notions of Justice: Engaging Parents as a Legitimacy-Building Approach in Juvenile Delinquency Court

The Role of Parents and Parens Patriae: Developing Views of Legitimacy and Justice in Juvenile Delinquency Court


 
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