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Youth younger than 18 prosecuted in criminal court: National estimate, 2015 cases

Author: Charles Puzzanchera, Melissa Sickmund, Anthony Sladky Organization: National Center for Juvenile Justice, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Research from National Center for Juvenile Justice provides an estimate of youth transferred to criminal court by judicial waiver in 2015.

Differential Effects of Adult Court Transfer on Juvenile Offender Recidivism

Prior research indicates that adolescent offenders transferred to adult court are more likely to recidivate than those retained in the juvenile system. The studies supporting this conclusion, however, are limited in addressing the issue of heterogeneity among transferred adolescents. This study estimates the effect of transfer on later crime using a sample of 654 serious juvenile offenders, 29% of whom were transferred. We use propensity score matching to reduce potential selection bias, and we partition the sample on legal characteristics to examine subgroup effects. We find an overall null effect of transfer on re-arrest, but evidence of differential effects of transfer for adolescents with different offending histories. These results suggest that evaluating the effects of transfer for all transferred adolescents together may lead to misguided policy conclusions.

Juvenile Transfer and Deterrence: Reexamining the Effectiveness of a “Get Tough” Policy

Although research has examined the effectiveness of juvenile transfer on recidivism, there has been a lack of research done in assessing how well juvenile waiver to adult court meets the criteria necessary for deterrence to occur (i.e., certainty, severity, and swiftness of punishment). The purpose of this study is to assess how well juvenile transfer meets these criteria, using data on 345 youths legislatively waived to adult court in Pennsylvania. The findings indicate that there is greater punishment severity in adult court, but there is no difference in punishment certainty between the two court systems. In addition, court processing occurred more quickly in juvenile court. In other words, only one element of deterrence theory is achieved with juvenile transfer. Implications for subsequent research and policy are discussed.

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

The independent, non-federal 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.

Juvenile Transfer Laws: An Effective Deterrent to Delinquency?

This bulletin 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.

Transfer of Juveniles to Criminal Court is Not Correlated with Falling Youth Violences

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.