Date of Conferral







Jay Greiner


There are high rates of recidivism among U.S. Black youth when compared to other races, such as Whites and Hispanics. The purpose of the study was to examine the lived experiences of Black youth in the juvenile justice system and in diversion programs. Using a phenomenological qualitative method, twelve Black adults between the ages of 18 to 40 were interviewed about their lived experiences while participating in mental health courts and in-home probation as youth. The conceptual framework of the study was based on the risk, need, and responsivity model. The primary research question examined the lived experiences and perceptions of Black youth regarding their interaction with the juvenile justice system, their offending behavior, recidivism, and treatment with in-home probation and mental health courts. Interview data were coded and analyzed for key themes. Influences that increased offending behaviors were mental health, substance abuse, and peer influences. Participants indicated that their lived experiences following release increased discrimination and changed social status. Participants involved with mental health court were able to improve communication; however, the program was poorly structured. Participants assigned to in-home probation found it to be ineffective and had a negative impact. The findings of the study may allow researchers and practitioners to better understand individual differences and create more focused programs that are effective in reducing recidivism for Black youth involved in the juvenile justice system in the United States resulting in positive social change.