Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Criminal Justice

Degree Program

Criminal Justice, PhD

Committee Chair

Vito, Gennaro

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Higgins, George

Committee Member

Dawson-Edwards, Cherie

Committee Member

Marcum, Catherine

Author's Keywords

Disproportionate minority contact; intimate partner violence; focal concerns theory; adjudication; juvenile justice; judges


Disproportionate minority contact (DMC) is a salient issue that has been found at every stage of the decision-making process in the juvenile justice system (Hawkins & Kempf-Leonard, 2005; Kempf-Leonard, 2007; Bishop, 2005; Leiber, Bishop, & Chamlin, 2010; Leiber & Stairs, 1999). Existing research indicates that DMC influences adjudication for drug, property, and personal crimes (Fergusson, Horwood, & Swain-Campbell, 2003; Frazier, Bishop, & Henretta, 1992; Leiber & Jamieson, 1995; Leiber & Mack, 2003; Hawkins & Kempf-Leonard, 2005; Leiber, 2015). Because intimate partner violence (IPV) is a major public health problem and global concern (Djamba & Kimuna, 2008; Goo & Harlow, 2012; Laisser, Nyström, Lugina, & Emmelin, 2011; Simister, 2010; WHO, 2013), the current study examines DMC at adjudication among youth charged for crimes of interpersonal violence. This research uses administrative, Court Designated Worker (CDW) data collected from 2014 to 2016 (n = 699). The results are contextualized using Steffensmeier’s version of focal concerns theory of judicial decision-making (Steffensmeier, Ulmer, & Kramer, 1998). This study assesses race and two seriousness of offense measures to establish whether a link exists between race and adjudication. The results of this study coincide with previous research. These results are discussed in terms of policy implications, limitations, and future research.