Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Justice Studies

First Advisor

Irina R. Soderstrom

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies


The primary question of importance in this current study is what factors affect judges' dispositional rulings in a small rural Central Kentucky county. In order to evaluate these factors, this study involved a two stage process. The quantitative data were gathered from 120 Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) files dating back to 1999 that were processed through the study site small county court. The qualitative data were gathered through a series of structured interviews with court personnel. This current study provides descriptive statistics of the study cases that have been adjudicated delinquent with respect to their legal and extralegal characteristics, and their dispositional rulings. Additionally, this study examines the bivariate associations between legal and extralegal factors and judges' dispositional rulings. Finally, this study examines some prediction models that allow for estimating the odds that an adjudicated delinquent will receive various types of dispositional outcomes. By evaluating both quantitative and qualitative data, the consensus was reached that school performance and whether or not a juvenile had past probation were the main predictive factors in which the judges' based their decisions at the time of disposition on.