Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




April Thomas


Plea bargains are a necessary part of the criminal justice system as a whole, and the juvenile justice system more specifically. However, juveniles may be at a particular disadvantage when entering into a plea bargain as a result of their developmental capacities. Pretrial detention in particular might influence the quality of the final plea agreement that a juvenile accepts, as adolescents would be motivated towards the short-term goal of being released from detention. The current study aimed to examine the relationship between juvenile pretrial detention and plea discounts through mediating relationships with number of attorneys and time to plea. Data collected from 1051 juveniles in El Paso County from January 202 - March 2023 were analyzed in a multilevel structural equation modeling framework, with charges nested within referrals. The results yielded several important findings. First, pretrial detention had a differential effect on time to plea depending on its operationalization; juveniles who were detained for longer periods of time accepted a plea agreement more slowly, but juveniles who were detained at the time of their adjudication accepted a plea agreement more quickly. Second, longer time to plea was associated with a greater reduction between the initial charges and the final charges. Third, detention under house arrest rather than in a secure facility mitigated some of the negative effects of pretrial detention on the plea process. Finally, having a greater number of attorneys was associated with longer times to plea. Implications for juvenile justice policy and practice are discussed.




Recieved from ProQuest

File Size


File Format


Rights Holder

Isabelle May Clough

Included in

Psychology Commons