Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Dr. Cassia Spohn

Second Advisor

Dr. Samuel Walker

Third Advisor

Dr. Mary Ann Lamanna


The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the impact of gender and the interaction of gender and race on juvenile court processing. Specifically, this thesis examined whether males and females received differential treatment within the juvenile justice system in three counties in Iowa. Moreover, the current study addresses the possibility that gender differences in case outcome may be confounded by the race of the juvenile. The five stages of the juvenile justice system included in the study were: intake, petition, initial appearance, adjudication, and judicial disposition. While the outcomes available to decision-makers vary by stage, the most severe outcome at each stage is represented as the outcome which sends the juvenile further into the system. At judicial disposition, the most severe outcome is lock-up in a secure facility. The three hypotheses tested suggest that males will be treated more harshly than females, that white females will be treated more leniently than all other groups, and that black males will be treated more harshly than all other groups at each of the five stages of the system. A sample of 4,798 white and black youth referred to juvenile court services in three counties in Iowa for the period from 1980 to 1990 were examined. Results of logistic regression offer only limited support for two of the hypotheses tested. Specifically, males were treated more harshly than females only at intake; and white females were treated more leniently than all other gender/race groups at intake. The discussion provides possible explanations for the gender/race differences that were found. The present study reemphasizes the need to examine the impact of the gender/race interaction rather than of gender alone.


A Thesis Presente to the Department of Criminal Justice and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Molly Ann Cargin June, 1993