A Literature Review of Applicable Studies Evaluating Effects of Juvenile versus Criminal Prosecution and Incarceration on Juvenile Recidivism


For hundreds of years this Country has grappled with juvenile crime and sundry

approaches to dealing with child criminals. While states convey jurisdiction over

juvenile offenders to juvenile, adult and Teen Courts to address juvenile crime, a body of

studies has emerged suggesting that trying juveniles in adult courts is more apt to result

in an overall increase in recidivism by convicted and incarcerated youths. Nonetheless,

because of concerns that juvenile courts provide a mere “slap on the hand” of offenders

who, it is perceived, have become more violent in recent years, since the 1980s, states

have enacted legislation authorizing or mandating the transfer of more and more juvenile

offenders to adult courts for prosecution. Via these “waiver or transfer” laws, it has been

posited that the juvenile justice system has morphed from one committed to

rehabilitation, to a system committed to punishment; often without regard to

rehabilitation. Based on studies discussed below, researchers present overwhelming

evidence that the increased transfer of juvenile offenders to criminal courts creates the

risk of perpetuating juvenile crime via increased recidivism, particularly among violent

juvenile offenders, thus mandating a countrywide evolution in the use of criminal courts

to prosecute juveniles.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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