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Key Legislative Issues in Criminal Justice: Transferring Serious Juvenile Offenders to Adult Courts

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1997
6 pages
Publication Series
Juvenile court waiver is examined in terms of trends in transferring serious juvenile offenders to adult courts and the issues involved in placing juveniles in adult correctional facilities.
Recent changes in some State laws have resulted in increasing numbers of youths being sentenced as adults and incarcerated in adult facilities. The number of juvenile court cases increased from 7,000 in 1988 to 11,000 in 1992. These changes are affecting both juvenile detention facilities, where many youthful offenders await transfer to adult prisons, and the adult prisons, where administrators must develop ways to include this different population. Juvenile detention facilities are experiencing a backlog of juveniles awaiting transfers to adult prisons, causing some problems in managing this temporary population. Some await transfers for 6 months or longer. Thirty-six States disperse young inmates in housing with adult inmates, nine house them only with inmates ages 18-21, and six either transfer them to their State juvenile training schools until they reach the age of majority or house them in segregated units in adult prisons. Issues involved in placing juveniles in adult facilities include their risk of being raped or assaulted by older inmates; their increased risk for suicide if placed in isolation for protection; and their different needs regarding diet, exercise, and discipline. Some States such as Georgia and Colorado are building special units and providing special staff and programming for these youths. Tables and 18 reference notes

Date Published: January 1, 1997