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Detained Youth Processed in Juvenile and Adult Court: Psychiatric Disorders and Mental Health Needs

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2015
16 pages
Publication Series
This bulletin presents findings of a study of the prevalence of psychiatric disorders among youth transferred to adult criminal court compared with those processed in juvenile court, based on data obtained from the Northwestern Juvenile Project, a longitudinal study of 1,829 youth ages 10-18, who were arrested and detained between November 20, 1995, and June 14, 1998, at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago.
The study found that many youth are being transferred to adult criminal court, with males, African-Americans, Hispanics, and older youth significantly more likely to be processed in adult criminal court than females, non-Hispanic Whites and younger youth, even after controlling for the current charge. The prevalence of one or more disorders among youth transferred to adult criminal court does not significantly differ from that among youth processed in juvenile court. Among youth processed in adult criminal court, those sentenced to prison had significantly greater odds than those who received a less severe sentence of having a disruptive behavior disorder, a substance-use disorder, or co-occurring affective and anxiety disorders. The study advises that community and correctional systems must collaborate to identify and treat youth with psychiatric disorders who are transferred to adult criminal court. Youth who are transferred to adult criminal court and receive prison sentences should be considered a particularly high-risk group who are likely to require additional services. 5 tables and 52 references

Date Published: September 1, 2015