Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Affairs

First Advisor's Name

Milena I. Neshkova

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Allan Rosenbum

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Meredith A. Newman

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Alexander Kroll

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Timothy Goddard

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Equity, Social Construction, Political Control, Representative Bureaucracy, Emotional Labor, Policing, Juvenile Justice System

Date of Defense



Inequities in public service provision refer to disparate outputs and outcomes among social groups. This dissertation addresses inequalities in justice provision in American society and has three objectives. The first objective is to test whether the race and ethnicity of top elected law-enforcement officials mitigate disparities in juvenile justice provision among social groups. The second objective is to examine whether the gender of top elected law-enforcement officials affects the severity of justice outcomes at the street level. The third objective is to analyze institutional responses on social media platforms to police misconduct and social unrest after the death of George Floyd. Each objective is addressed in a separate essay.

The first essay examines racial and ethnic inequities in the juvenile justice system by comparing the outcomes among minority youth. The study hypothesizes that the sheriff and state attorney’s party affiliation and race/ethnicity mitigate the inequalities in justice provision among social groups. Data from all 67 Florida counties between 2015 and 2020 demonstrate that the effect goes more through race than ideology. In this sense, representative bureaucracy theory appears more relevant than political control in explaining the distribution of justice outcomes.

The second essay inquiries if arrests and prosecutions among youth vary as a function of sheriffs’ and state attorneys’ sex. Drawing on data from Florida counties between 2015 and 2020, the analysis shows that counties with female sheriffs and state attorneys experience fewer youth arrests and prosecutions than those led by men, especially among minority and female offenders. The finding that women’s leadership is positively associated with less severe outcomes for delinquent young lends more support to emotional labor than theories of gendered organizational socialization and representative bureaucracy.

The third essay analyzes the content and timing of initial statements by mayors and police chiefs on nationwide demonstrations against unequal treatment of minorities. Responsiveness is conceptualized through the lenses of political control and representative bureaucracy theories. The study’s findings reveal that mayors’ responsiveness goes along the party lines but not for police chiefs. The statements of Black police chiefs support the expectations of representative bureaucracy theory but only in terms of content and not in timing.

The broader social value of this dissertation lies in documenting the presence of vast inequalities in justice provision among social groups, often with life-lasting consequences for young offenders, and proposing possible mechanisms to remedy them.





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