AN EMPIRICAL EVALUATION OF LAW ASSUMPTIONS OF A JUVENILE COURT IN MEXICO
 
Frias-Armenta, M., University of Sonora, Mexico
 
The aim of this study was to empirically evaluate law assumptions and practices of a juvenile court in Mexico. Such law indicates that court decisions should be made by considering the severity of crime and the dangerousness of the judged juvenile. The law assumes that institutional treatment will help minors in their rehabilitation and in their avoiding the commission of new crimes. 70 files were analyzed containing all the cases turned to this tribunal in January 2000. A check list elaborated for this research was used, which included questions regarding the type of crime committed by the juvenile, times his/her case was promoted by his/her attorney, and the kind of resolutions and treatments applied to the juveniles. Law students who received a special training in juvenile process collected the data. Files were reviewed and the questions of the checklist were completed. Two multiple regressions analysis were conducted. The first one had as dependent variable the resulting resolution and the second the degree of recidivism. Results revealed that the resolutions of the juvenile courts were made considering only the severity of crime and the degree of recidivism. Recidivism was predicted by the time of institutional treatment. Contrary to the expected, results showed that the resolution was not based upon the dangerousness of the juvenile and the time in institutional treatment produced recidivism, which invalidated law assumptions.