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Too Many Youth Caught in the Net of Adult Prosecution

Too Many Youth Caught in the Net of Adult Prosecution

Too Many Youth Caught in the Net of Adult Prosecution

In October 2007, the Campaign for Youth Justice released “To Punish a Few: Too Many Youth Caught in the Net of Adult Prosecution,” which provides a comprehensive analysis of the issue of youth tried as adults. Jolanta Juszkiewicz, Ph.D., authored this comprehensive report as a follow up to her earlier study, “Youth Crime/Adult Time: Is Justice Served?”. This report uses data collected for the Juvenile Defendants in Criminal Courts, Survey of 40 Counties, 1998 (JDCC) program sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice. The JDCC was the most ambitious effort to capture information on the prosecution of juveniles as adults. This report presents a multi-faceted analysis to explore whether the intended purposes of the expansion of adult prosecution of youth were met in 1998 and whether the answers to that question would differ today.

The findings of this report add credence to those of innumerable other studies that (1) African-American youth were disproportionately caught in the net of adult prosecution and adjudication in most of the jurisdictions, when measured against their proportion of the general or arrested population and (2) a high proportion of youth were held in adult jails, and for many whose cases did not result in a conviction in adult court this was their only exposure to an adult facility. Other findings indicated that the filing mechanisms, particularly the statutory exclusion and to a lesser extent direct filing, were less successful in identifying those youth who were deemed to be inappropriate for juvenile court then the judicial waiver. Many youth whose cases were filed in adult court by these mechanisms were subjected to detention in adult jail only to have their cases be transferred back to the juvenile court system or otherwise thrown out of the adult system.