Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Martin G. Miller


This study describes a dichotomized juvenile justice policy, which at the surface preserves the myth of a non-punitive and prevention-oriented system, but analysis reveals the policy perspective of the American state juvenile justice law codes to be punitive nationwide. The absence of Sociological Prevention (non-punitive, systemic change oriented emphasis) across codes nationally suggests further support for the dominance of the punitive perspectives. A separate analysis of California, Illinois, and Iowa codes provides added support for the punitive perspective;Purpose of the study. The purpose of this study is to show the contrasting nature of the juvenile justice policy perspectives. Utilizing Minnesota Context Content Analysis (MCCA) (computerized), texts of 50 state juvenile law codes' statement of purpose clauses are analyzed. The match between the emphasis of policy articulated in the codes and those policies in application is compared across three states, California, Illinois, and Iowa, over a nine-year period;These data suggest the prevention (non-punitive) juvenile policy mandate of the codes is not being met, rather, the implicit punitive policy is being applied across codes. Data reflect high isomorphicity between the punitive policy as articulated in the codes and the punitive archival indicators of the application across the three states over the nine-year interval;Significance of the study. This study develops the utilization of law codes and state archival data as sociological data bases in juvenile justice law/policy research;The use of computerized Minnesota Context Content Analysis (MCCA) as a research tool in sociology, justice policy, juvenile justice codes/law/policy, law, and public policy is introduced;An alternative understanding of the juvenile justice policy perspective as punitive in nature rather than non-punitive preventative is advanced;The research problem is defined and operationalized, literature reviewed, theoretical frame presented, and hypotheses for empirical testing stated. Conclusions are presented, limitations of the study and suggestions for future research are identified.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

James McGaha



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

245 pages