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Role of Peer Arrests on the Development of Youths' Attitudes Towards the Justice System

NCJ Number
Law and Human Behavior Volume: 40 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2016 Pages: 211-218
A. Fine; C. Cavanagh
Date Published
April 2016
8 pages
Using data from a sample of 1,216 first-time male adolescent offenders, this study examined how attitudes toward the justice system developed over 24 months following the adolescent's first arrest.
During adolescence, youths develop attitudes about the justice system. Although there is consistent evidence that personal experiences with legal actors contribute to attitudes toward the justice system, adolescents' attitudes may also be influenced vicariously through their friends' experiences with the justice system. Even after accounting for personal justice system experiences, including self-reported offending, time on the streets, and contacts with the police, results indicate that adolescents with friends who were arrested report more negative attitudes toward the justice system than those without friends who were arrested. Further, experiencing a friend's arrest had a larger impact on the attitudes of youths who were experiencing it for the first time. Evidence is provided that attitudes toward the justice system are a product of accumulated social experiencesboth personal and vicariouswith the justice system. (Publisher abstract modified)