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The Campaign for Youth Justice is committed to providing you with the most updated information on transfer/waiver of youth to the adult criminal court and has produced several publications including CFYJ Reports and Policy Briefs.

The national reports and resources below highlight the vast body of evidence finding that transferring juveniles to the adult criminal justice system leads to higher rates of recidivism, puts incarcerated and detained youth at unnecessary risk, has little deterrence value, and does not increase public safety.

National Reports and Resources

Youth in Adult Criminal Courts


Juvenile Justice, Geography, Policy, Practice and Statistics (2014) is an interactive web-based tool that charts national changes in juvenile justice policy, practices, and statatistics to better understand reform.  Changes are tracked in 6 areas of reform including Jurisdictional Boundaries, Juvenile Defense, Racial & Ethnic Fairness, Juvenile Justice Services, Status Offense Issues and Integrated Services.
Author: The National Center for Juvenile Justice

Transfer of Juveniles to Criminal Court is Not Correlated with Falling Youth Violences (March 2012)
Transfer of Juveniles to Criminal Court is Not Correlated with Falling Youth Violences, an analysis by Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, refutes the claim that transferring youth to criminal court is responsible for decreasing crime rates. The dearth of data on youth prosecuted in the adult system has made such comparisons difficult in the past. However, by comparing transfer rates and crime rates from the six states with good data systems where all youth ages 16-17 are originally subject to juvenile court jurisdiction, Butts found there is no relationship between declining crime rates and transfer. For example, Butts found that Florida transfers more youth than any other state but did not achieve the same crime drop that Ohio, California, or Washington state achieved from 1995-2010.
Author: Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York

You’re An Adult Now: Youth in Adult Criminal Justice Systems (January 2012)
Now available in the NIC Library, You’re An Adult Now: Youth in Adult Criminal Justice Systems, which focuses on issues managing youth offenders in an adult corrections system.

  • Youth transferred to the adult corrections system recidivate at a higher rate than those kept in the juvenile justice system;
  • Pretrial, post-conviction, and community supervision corrections systems face challenges keeping youth safe, effectively providing for their services and supervision, and containing costs required to serve youth appropriately. Due to these and other challenges corrections systems face when managing these youth, the transfer of juveniles in adult institutions might run counter to correctional and rehabilitative goals;
  • To overcome these challenges, a number of states and localities have developed innovative ways of managing youth when they have been charged, convicted and committed to the adult corrections system. These changes are helping improve public safety, contain costs, successfully rehabilitate youth and help them transition to adulthood.

Author: Jason Ziedenberg (2012)

No Place for Kids: The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration (October 2011)
On October 4th, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released No Place for Kids: The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration, which examines the detrimental impact of America’s over-reliance on incarceration of youth in a thorough, in-depth analysis of its effect on youth and public safety. Combining research, data and testimony, the analysis shows that America’s reliance on incarcerating young offenders has not only failed to combat youth crime but also that reducing these rates and closing facilities does not increase juvenile crime rates. Click here for the press release.
Author: The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Trying Juveniles as Adults: An Analysis of State Transfer Laws and Reporting (September 2011)
This OJJDP publication is a must-read bulletin as it provides the latest overview of state transfer laws and practices and examines available state-level data on juveniles adjudicated in the criminal justice system.  State-by-state tables that readers will find useful include: type of transfer mechanism (i.e., judicial waiver to blended sentencing); states housing youth in adult prisons; laws allowing youth to be held pre-trial in jail; transfer data available in a state; juvenile courts that are allowed to impose criminal sanctions on juveniles; specifics of automatic/statutory waiver mechanisms; specifics of prosecutorial waiver mechanisms; and specifics of judicial waiver mechanisms (e.g., ages, offenses, burden of proof).
Authors: Patrick Griffin, Sean Addie, Benjamin Adams, Kathy Firestine, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Bulletin

Juvenile Transfer Laws: An Effective Deterrent to Delinquency? (June 2010)

Bulletin by Richard E. Redding confirms extensive research finding that transfer laws have had the unintended consequence of increasing, rather than decreasing, recidivism rates and suggests that any intended deterrent effect of these laws has been largely unsuccessful.

Author: Richard E. Redding, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Bulletin


Literature Review on Youth Tried As Adults (July 2010)

The Juvenile Justice Project at UCLA Law School released a literature review on the Impact of Prosecuting Youth in the Adult Criminal Justice System in July 2010. This report was commissioned by the Campaign for Youth Justice, and provides an update to the previous literature review published by the Youth Law Center in 1995.  The report compiles the latest research and reveals the harmful effects of transferring youth to the adult criminal justice system, where facilities are ill-equipped to address youth needs and promote rehabilitation by examining the effects on culpability, probability of incarceration, length of incarceration, location of incarceration, processing time, deterrence, and recidivism.

Author: CFYJ and the UCLA School of Law, Juvenile Justice Project.

 From Time-Out to Hard Time: Young Children in the Adult Criminal Justice System. (July 2009)

Policy research report by Michele Deitch that analyzes the available data with regard to the transfer of young children to adult criminal court, documents the extremely harsh and tragic consequences that follow when young children go into the adult criminal justice system, profiles practices in states with particularly severe outcomes for these young children, looks at international practices and offers policy recommendations.

Author: Michele Deitch, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.


Keeping Adolescents Out of Prison (October 2008)

Policy brief by Laurence Steinberg and Ron Haskins cites research showing that harsh punishment in adult facilities increases the probability of future violent crimes and that programs for youth that provide systematic treatment in community and family settings significantly reduce future criminal behavior without the need for harsh sanctions. The brief recommends states should adapt their laws on juvenile crime to emphasize evidence-based treatment and to avoid harsh punishment for all but repeat violent offenders.

Author: Laurence Steinberg and Ron Haskins, The Future of Children Brookings Institution Policy Brief

Juvenile Crime and Criminal Justice: Resolving Border Disputes (October 2008)

Chapter by Jeffery Fagan on the impact of transfer laws in reducing crime. Fagan finds that rates of juvenile offending are not lower in states where it is more common to try adolescents as adults and juveniles who have been tried as adults are no less likely to re-offend than their juvenile counterparts. Fagan concludes that treating juveniles as adult criminals is not effective as a means of crime control.

Author: Jeffrey Fagan, The Future of Children Juvenile Justice Report, Volume 18, No. 2


A Road Map for Juvenile Justice Reform (June 2008)

Essay included in the 2008 KIDS COUNT Data book summarized current trends in juvenile justice and makes the case for reforms that will keep youth safe, strengthen communities and reduce juvenile crime.

Author: Annie E. Casey Foundation


Effects on Violence of Laws and Policies Facilitating the Transfer of Youth from the Juvenile to the Adult Justice System: A Report on Recommendations of the Task Force on Community Preventive Services (November 2007)

The independent, nonfederal Task Force on Community Preventive Service’s review of published scientific evidence concerning the effectiveness of laws and policies that facilitate the transfer of juveniles to the adult criminal justice system. The report found that transfer to the adult criminal justice system typically increases rather than decreases rates of violence among transferred youth and recommends against laws or policies facilitating the transfer of juveniles to the adult criminal justice system for the purpose of reducing violence.

Author: Task Force on Community Preventive Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Report

Fact Sheet

Polling on Juvenile Justice

Youth Justice System Survey Poll (October 2011) GBA Strategies administered this survey of 1,000 adults nationwide between September 27th and October 2nd, 2011.

Key findings include:

  • By a margin of 78 – 15 percent, the public overwhelming wants the focus of the juvenile justice system to be on prevention and rehabilitation, rather than incarceration and punishment;
  • A majority of U.S. adults (56 percent) think that youth facilities are more appropriate to hold juveniles convicted of crimes than adult prisons;
  • People overwhelmingly trust judges (81 percent), not prosecutors (12 percent), to determine if and when a juvenile should be tried as an adult;
  • Nearly two-thirds of the public favors setting a minimum age at which a young person can be prosecuted in adult court; and
  • Americans strongly support a multitude of reforms to the juvenile justice system. These include removing young people from adult jails and prisons, ensuring youth remain connected with their families, having independent oversight to ensure youth are protected from abuse while in custody, increasing funds to provide more public defenders to represent youth in court, and reducing racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system.

Pew Juvenile Justice Polling (2014) Voters support sending serious juvenile offenders to corrections facilities, but they favor a range of less-costly alternatives for lower-level offenders, according to a nationwide poll conducted in 2014 by a bipartisan team of pollsters, the Mellman Group and Public Opinion Strategies. Voters see juvenile corrections facilities as government programs that should be subject to a basic cost-benefit test, and they strongly support a more robust probation system and more intervention by families, schools, and social service agencies. When it comes to the juvenile justice system, voters want offending youth to get the services and supervision they need to change their behavior and stop committing crimes—even if that means less incarceration.

Adolescent Brain Development

Give Adolescents the Time and Skills to Mature, Most will Stop (2014)"The Pathways to Desistance study is a multi-site, longitudinal study of serious adolescent offenders as they transition from adolescence into early adulthood ... [It] looks at the factors that led these youths to commit serious crimes and to continue or stop offending. Sections of this brief explain that: adolescents, including serious juvenile offenders, naturally mature psychologically, socially, and cognitively over time; 9% of persistent juvenile offenders continue criminal behavior as adults; there is a lot of variation in how juvenile offenders mature; prediction about future offending should be based on maturity patterns not offending severity or frequency; and serious juvenile offenders need help learning the psychosocial skills they need for a law-abiding adult life.

Author:Steinberg, Laurence. Models for Change. Resource Center Partnership (Washington, DC).

The Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) in the Lives of Juvenile Offenders (2014), focuses on the prevalence and impact ACEs has on juvenile offenders and aims to address the lack of knowledge about this. Researchers have identified also identified multiple types of abuse, parental separation and other gender differences as repercussions of this.

Author: Baglivio, Michael T.; Epps, Nathan; Swartz, Kimberly; et al.. U.S. Dept. of Justice. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) (Washington, DC).

The report Because Kids are Different: Five Opportunities for Reforming the Juvenile Justice System (2014), focuses on the implicated alterations of policies that will improve the compatibility of healthy adolescent development. In addition, it depicts on certain interventions and approaches of youth offenders.

Author: Chambers, Benjamin; Balck, Annie. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (Chicago, IL). Models for Change. Resource Center Partnership (Washington, DC).

Programs that Promote Positive Development Can Help Young Offenders Grow up and Out of Crime (2014), deals with issues concerning the impact of an adolescent's level of maturity on future offending are discussed. In particular, ways to help serious juvenile offenders acquire the skills they need to live crime-free in the community. This report explains why: serious juvenile offenders, like their non-offending counterparts, vary in their patterns of development; most serious juvenile offenders are not on the road to persistent adult offending; multiple components of maturity are related to reduced offending; and reducing offending means not simply restricting opportunities to offend but expanding opportunities to grow.

Author: Schubert, Carol A.; Mulvey, Edward P.. Models for Change. Resource Center Partnership (Washington, DC).

Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach (2012), illustrates on the development of adolescents and how this development can affect their criminal behavior, making them more prone to commit crimes at a young age but not once they mature. The book determines that adolescents are more sensitive to external influences such as peer pressure and immediate rewards. Adolescents are less able to regulate their own behavior in emotionally charged contexts. Adolescents show less ability to make judgments and decisions that require future orientation.

Authors Richard J. Bonnie, Robert L. Johnson, Betty M. Chemers, and Julie Schuck, Editors; Committee on Assessing Juvenile Justice Reform; Committee on Law and Justice; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education; National Research Council.

Family Engagement

OJJDP Releases Report of Family Listening Sessions on Juvenile Justice (August 2013)

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has released "OJJDP Family Listening Sessions: Executive Summary." In 2011, OJJDP and the Campaign for Youth Justice convened four listening sessions involving families and youth who have had direct experiences with the juvenile justice system at the local or state levels. This report summarizes the participants' experiences and their recommendations for reform. The listening sessions provide OJJDP, state juvenile justice agencies, and other stakeholders with a greater understanding of the challenges families face when their child becomes involved in the juvenile or criminal justice systems

Girls & Women in the System

The report Gender-Responsive Policy (2015), focuses on correctional policy and procedures that differ based on male and female offenders. The majority deals with areas of physical and mental health, substance abuse and its risks. In addition it mentions other inconsistencies in the management of these offenders.

Author: King, Erica; Foley, Jillian E.. National Institute of Corrections (NIC).Community Services Division (Washington, DC).


Black Girls Matter: Pushed out, Overpoliced, and Underprotected(2015), centralizes itself around research, data, and policy debates of how black girls and other girls of color in the juvenile justice system lack proper resources to improve themselves. Its primary concern deals with education and how the zero-tolerance policy only deprives them of it.

Author: Crenshaw, Kimberle Williams; Ocen, Priscilla; Nanda, Jyoti. Schott Foundation for Public Education (Cambridge, MA). African American Policy Forum (AAPF) (New York, NY); Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies (CISPS) (New York, NY).

The article 10 Facts About Women in Jails (2013), reviews the issues women face incarcerated that is not only different from men incarcerated, but influence their involvement in criminal justice, including jails. Here are ten facts listed in explaining what and why it happens.

Author: Ney, Becki. American Jail Association (AJA) (Hagerstown, MD).


Incarceration's Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America (2015), speaks about the unfortunate alternate and usage of local/county jails. Instead of detaining individuals because they are at high risk of flight while pending trial they are held because of racial disparities and economic wealth status. This report also highlights on jurisdictions that have taken steps in reforming such situations with the misuse of these detention centers.

Author: Ram Subramanian, Ruth Delaney, Stephen Roberts, et al. Center for Sentencing and Justice, VERA Institute for Justice

Juvenile Justice Reform

Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2014 National Report | Fourth Edition pinpoints on national data collections that exemplify the specific information needs of those involved with the juvenile justice system. Chapter 7 focuses on youth in adult facilities.

Author: Sickmund, Melissa, editor; Puzzanchera, Charles, editor; Deal, Teri; Hockenberry, Sarah; Addie, Sean; et al. U.S. Dept. of Justice. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) (Washington, DC). National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ) (Pittsburgh, PA).

Guiding Principles for Providing High-Quality Education in Juvenile Justice Secure Care Settings (2014) touches base on educating youths that are in incarcerated as well as providing sufficient rehabilitation and their safety. It states the notion that these facilities should be developmentally appropriate and focus on the youth education, social-emotional, behavioral, and career planning needs so that their time within a secure care and have a positive experience in the facility.

Author: National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth Who are Neglected, Delinquent of At-Risk (NDTAC) (Washington, DC); U.S. Dept. of Education (DOE) (Washington, DC); U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) (Washington, DC).

Juvenile Justice Reform: County Leadership Roles and Opportunities(2014), details why it is important to improve juvenile justice systems and how county governments can lead improvement efforts in their role as primary local providers of health, justice and social services for communities. Recognizing that many juvenile justice systems have inappropriate, cost-ineffective or nonexistent programs to assist youth who end up in courts and detention centers for nonviolent crimes, the report provides guidance to county officials and staff on community-based alternatives that are proven to produce better outcomes and cost less.

Author: The National Association of Counties

The article The State of Juvenile Justice, 2014 discusses reforming the juvenile justice system in response to children and young people who have been victimized from non-criminal behavior. It exemplifies the misconstruing of having something "beyond control" and emphasizes on the fact that if someone does not act no one will, but in fact that if someone does act, no one else will because the burden is placed elsewhere. Reforms for replenishing these ideas are in much need not just currently but for your justice system and those affected by it.

Author: Elliott, John D. "Jay". American Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section (Washington, DC).

Juvenile Justice Reform: County Leadership Roles and Opportunities(2014), details why it is important to improve juvenile justice systems and how county governments can lead improvement efforts in their role as primary local providers of health, justice and social services for communities. Recognizing that many juvenile justice systems have inappropriate, cost-ineffective or nonexistent programs to assist youth who end up in courts and detention centers for nonviolent crimes, the report provides guidance to county officials and staff on community-based alternatives that are proven to produce better outcomes and cost less.

Author: National Association of Counties

Health Coverage and Care for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System: The Role of Medicaid and CHIP (2014), "This brief provides an overview of the health and mental health needs of girls and boys in the juvenile justice system and the role of Medicaid in addressing those needs. It focuses on the circumstances of those girls and boys who are placed in juvenile justice residential facilities, the discontinuity of Medicaid coverage for those youth, and the options for improving coverage, continuity of care and access to needed services post-discharge, including new opportunities provided by the Affordable Care Act."

Author: Acoca, Leslie; Stephens, Jessica; Van Vleet, Amanda. Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.

Mending Justice: Sentinel Event Review (2014), sheds light of how criminal justice systems should respond to errors. This series of articles focuses on sentinel event errors that could cause a change of reactions and threaten the integrity of the system as a whole.

Author: James M Doyle, et al., National Institute of Justice


The report Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails as Reported by inmate 2011-2012 (2012), observes into the levels of sexual misconduct in prisons. The study looked to determine the amount of sexual misconduct occurring in prison and if the acts are by officials of the prison or by other prisoners. The report determined that juveniles reported similar rates of sexual misconduct in prison as adults.

Author: G.J. Mazza, Editor


The report I Guide to Evidence-Based Prisoner Reentry Practices (2011), reviews the literature on effective correctional practices and research from applicable social sciences. It informs local policy and practices that promote extensive resources in order to observe prisoner reentry practices.

Author: Glassheim, Barbara. Tri-County Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative (MPRI) (Saginaw, MI).