Date of Award

Summer 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology/Criminal Justice

Committee Director

Allison Chappell

Committee Member

Scott Maggard

Committee Member

Ruth Triplett


Research shows that disparities still exist in the juvenile justice decision-making process, but there is a gap in our understanding of neighborhood characteristics that may affect those detention decisions. Therefore, this research examines structural factors influenced by social disorganization theory to explore the impact they have on juvenile detention decisions. Neighborhood parks and recreation centers are examined as important local institutions that provide informal social control to the neighborhood. The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) for the city of Norfolk compiled juvenile justice data, and 2016 Census data were also used to obtain neighborhood structural information. Non-White juveniles were more likely to be detained than White juveniles. Males were more likely to receive detention. The older the juvenile, the more likely they were to be detained at intake. The more available recreation centers in a neighborhood, the less likely a juvenile will be detained at intake from the same neighborhood. Poverty and heterogeneity also showed significance in the decision to detain a juvenile at intake. The policy implications are discusses as well as limitations and directions for future research.