Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Sociology (Criminology Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Sociology

Committee Chair

Dusten R. Hollist

Commitee Members

James W. Burfeind, Kyle G. Volk


Police Decision-Making, Juvenile Detention, Initial Detention


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Statistics | Sociology


Police decisions can have a direct impact on juvenile outcomes. These decisions are especially impactful in Montana as Montana law enforcement officers are provided statutory discretion pertaining to the decision to arrest and initially detain a youth. The goal of this study is to understand police officer decision-making as it pertains to the initial detention of juveniles and to inform future theory and policy. The research was guided by a focused hypothesis: The factors identified by law enforcement will be significant predictors of the factors associated with the likelihood of initial detention. In order to examine this issue, the current study utilizes two data sets from the same county in Montana. The first data source is a self-reported survey given to officers in a municipal police department and county sheriff’s department that ask questions about police officer decision-making. The second data source is drawn from court processing of citations that have been issued to juveniles. The combination of these two data sources creates a unique opportunity to examine the degree to which key considerations identified by the police are significant in regression models based on case processing data to distinguish between instances where detention occurs and those where a less formal alternative (e.g. counsel and release, probation, electronic monitoring) occurs. Based upon the findings, the factors identified by police officers were found to be significantly associated with the likelihood of initial detention.



© Copyright 2017 Tessa G. DeCunzo