Researchers at the National Center for Juvenile Justice designed a series of four studies to identify factors decision-makers consider when transferring cases from the juvenile to the adult criminal justice system.
Study sites were selected that had a large number of cases and that had sufficient detail on the crime incident, the youth's court history, and case processing characteristics to model the decision-making process. Studies in South Carolina and Utah considered all cases in which the prosecutor requested a judicial waiver. One of the two Pennsylvania studies compared the characteristics of juveniles waived in 1994 with those waived in 1986 to determine whether waiver criteria changed during this period. The second Pennsylvania study explored the decision-making process for cases involving young offenders that began in criminal court rather than in juvenile court under Pennsylvania's 1996 statutory exclusion legislation. Judges concurred with most waiver requests made by prosecutors in South Carolina and Utah. Two factors distinguished cases that were waived from those that were not, the extent of a juvenile's court history and the seriousness of his or her offense. A youth referred to juvenile court in Pennsylvania for a delinquency offense in 1994 was far more likely to be judicially waived to criminal court than a youth referred in 1986. The increase in waiver from 1986 to 1994 appeared to be related to a change in waiver criteria. Another important difference between 1986 and 1994 waiver groups was that juveniles waived in 1994 had less serious court histories than juveniles waived in 1986. The impact of Pennsylvania's statutory exclusion legislation on juvenile court waiver was negligible, but the statute increased processing time for cases eventually handled by the juvenile justice system and placed an additional burden on local jails and criminal courts. Appendixes contain supplemental information by State on juvenile court waiver. 27 references, 24 tables, and 1 figure
Date Published: August 1, 2000