This paper examines delays in juvenile court processing of delinquency cases.
A study examined nearly 3 million delinquency cases handled between 1985 and 1994 by 267 jurisdictions in 17 States. The combined annual caseload of the 267 jurisdictions increased 57 percent during the period, from 237,509 to 372,055 cases per year. In the largest jurisdictions, half of the formally handled cases involving non detained juveniles had disposition times in excess of 82 days. The Federal constitutional right to a speedy trial has never been extended to juveniles. In some States, juveniles have been explicitly denied this right. Only six States have enforced the dismissal of delinquency charges when court processing time exceeds statutory limits. Most juvenile courts continue to rely on voluntary goals and professional standards to control the timing of delinquency dispositions. The National District Attorneys Association recommended that no more than 60 days elapse between police referral and court disposition for juveniles held in secure detention, and that cases involving non-detained juveniles be completed in 90 days or less. Tables, figure
Date Published: March 1, 1997
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