International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology

The Effect of Extralegal Factors in Decision-Making About Juvenile Offenders in Chile: A Quasi-Experimental Study


Catalina Droppelmann, Pablo Carvacho, Mariel Mateo


This study seeks to identify the underlying factors related to the sentencing process for juvenile justice cases in Chile. To this end, a factorial survey method or quasi-experimental vignette method was used. This method allows us to understand with greater clarity the complex cognitive process involved in judicial decision-making. The results confirm that legal factors carry the critical weight for judicial decisions, though extralegal factors also play a role. Among these, factors associated with the offender (such as drug use and school attendance) and characteristics of the judges themselves (such as judicial attitudes and their previous experience) all influenced the decision-making process. These findings allow us to provide evidence about decision-making in the Latin American contexts and add to existing evidence in order to understand the moderating effect of certain class and gender stereotypes.