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Direct File / Statutory Exclusion / Automatic Transfer

Assessing the Relative Effects of State Direct File Waiver Laws on Violent Juvenile Crime: Deterrence or Irrelevance

Juvenile waiver, or transfer, laws allow certain young offenders to be removed from juvenile court jurisdiction and prosecuted in criminal court, where the range of sanctions is presumably greater. In the past several decades, many states have modified their existing transfer statutes in order to streamline the waiver process and make it easier to prosecute juveniles in criminal court. In doing so, states have excluded certain offenses from juvenile court jurisdiction or added concurrent jurisdiction provisions to their existing waiver statutes. Concurrent jurisdiction, or direct file, statutes afford prosecutors the unreviewable discretion to charge certain juveniles in either juvenile or criminal court. Although the increased legislation has generated a considerable amount of evaluations of the various effects of juvenile transfer laws, few studies have examined the deterrent effects of such laws on aggregate juvenile crime. In this study, we assess the general deterrent effects of direct file transfer laws in fourteen states which have such provisions. Findings reveal that direct file laws have little effect on violent juvenile crime.

Do Criminal Court Outcomes Vary by Juvenile Transfer Mechanism? A Multi-jurisdictional, Multilevel Analysis

In recent decades, the number of juvenile defendants transferred to criminal court has increased dramatically, in large measure due to an expansion of available transfer mechanisms. While transfer traditionally occurred by judicial waiver of jurisdiction, alternatives have emerged and eclipsed judicial waiver as the primary route to adult court. The present study examines whether the mechanism of waiver—judicial, prosecutorial, or legislative—affects sentencing outcomes for juvenile defendants transferred to adult court. Results from multilevel models that control for state-level variation indicate that sentencing outcomes are inextricably tied to method of transfer. Most notably, non-criminal outcomes are most likely for cases that arrive in criminal court by legislative waiver. This suggests that legislative waiver is an ineffective means of sending juvenile offenders to criminal court, and provides some empirical support for the notion that judicial waiver is the most appropriate method of transfer.

Legislative Waiver Reconsidered: General Deterrent Effects of Statutory Exclusion Laws Enacted Post‐1979

In recent years, the juvenile justice system has undergone a “get tough” transformation. One component of the system which has experienced substantial alteration is the mechanism by which states allow for the waiver of juvenile offenders to adult criminal court. Most of the state systems now have some form of transfer procedure in place and many allow for the automatic transfer (or statutory exclusion) of juveniles who have been charged with certain offenses. Although the effects of waiver laws on individuals have received much empirical attention, their effects on the respective states’ aggregate level violent juvenile crime rates are less understood. In this study, we examine the relative effects of legislative waiver laws in 22 states that have added statutory exclusion provisions since 1979. In doing so, we assess whether legislative waiver should be reconsidered.

Reforming Automatic Transfer Laws: A Success Story

This brief is one in a series describing new knowledge and innovations emerging from Models for Change, a multi-state juvenile justice initiative. Models for Change is accelerating movement toward a more effective, fair, and developmentally sound juvenile justice system by creating replicable models that protect community safety, use resources wisely, and improve outcomes for youths. The briefs are intended to inform professionals in juvenile justice and related fields, and to contribute to a new national wave of juvenile justice reform.

Stop Presumptive Transfers: How Forcing Juveniles to Prove They Should Remain in the Juvenile Justice System is Inconsistent with Roper v. Simmons & Graham v. Florida

This Comment provides an overview of the juvenile justice system, focusing primarily on its history and purpose. It explores juvenile transfer legislation and discusses the various types of juvenile transfer mechanisms. It also examines the Eighth Amendment in conjunction with the Supreme Court’s response to over expansive juvenile transfer legislation. Furthermore, this Comment analyzes the ways in which presumptive waivers are inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence. It also examines the Illinois statute, 705 ILL. COMP. STAT 405/5-805. Finally, this Comment proposes that the Illinois legislature should amend that statute to eliminate the presumptive waiver.

Transferring Juvenile Defendants From Adult to Juvenile Court: How Forensic Evaluators and Judges Reach Their Decisions

The purpose of the study was to determine how often Maryland judges agreed with the opinions of forensic evaluators in deciding whether to transfer youthful defendants to juvenile court from adult court and to investigate which factors were most important in the opinions of the evaluators and the final decisions of the judges. Data were extracted from a sample of 200 waiver evaluations, and case outcomes were determined. Factors were examined with both univariate analysis and logistic regression models, to find correlates to and predictors of judges’ decisions and evaluators’ opinions. The most important factor influencing the decision of the judges was the forensic evaluators’ opinions. Logistic regression analysis identified three factors that were significant predictors of the evaluator’s opinion: public safety risk, history of the involvement of Department of Juvenile Services, and defendant’s age at the time of the offense. The judges’ decisions correlated strongly with the forensic evaluators’ opinions.

We Don’t Always Mean What We Say: Attitudes Toward Statutory Exclusion of Juvenile Offenders From Juvenile Court Jurisdiction

In the United States, juvenile offenders are often excluded from the jurisdiction of juvenile court on the basis of age and crime type alone. Data from national surveys and data from psycholegal research on support for adult sanction of juvenile offenders are often at odds. The ways in which questions are asked and the level of detail provided to respondents and research participants may influence expressed opinions. Respondents may also be more likely to agree with harsh sanctions when they have fewer offender- and case-specific details to consider. Here, we test the hypothesis that attitudes supporting statutory exclusion laws measured in the absence of specific case-specific details may not be the best indicator of agreement with such laws in practice. We found that support for statutory exclusion was affected by exposure to information about an offender’s unique situation and by exposure to general scientific information about adolescent development. These results suggest that despite apparent widespread agreement with automatic exclusion statutes, laypersons consider factors other than those allowed by the law when they are asked how to treat an individual offender.