U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Juvenile Justice Dilemma

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 58 Issue: 1 Dated: (February 1996) Pages: 48-51
K S Olsson
Date Published
4 pages
This article examines the trend of trying and sentencing serious juvenile offenders as adults.
In an effort to counter increasing serious juvenile crime, many States have mandated procedures for trying juveniles as adults when they are charged with serious crimes. Eighteen States have modified their judicial waiver statutes since 1979. Most States either lowered the age at which a juvenile is eligible for waiver or increased the types of crime eligible for waiver. An estimated 11,700 juvenile delinquency cases transferred to criminal court were waived judicially in 1992, a 68-percent increase from the 7,000 cases waived in 1988. Even more troubling for some juvenile justice practitioners is that more States are restricting the discretion that juvenile court judges have in binding over juveniles to criminal court. Juvenile justice practitioners are also leery of the implications of prosecutorial discretion, in which prosecutors are given the authority to file juvenile cases in either juvenile or criminal court under concurrent jurisdiction statutes. Another concern is the lack of research to show that filing in criminal court, rather than proceeding in the juvenile court, leads to lower recidivism rates or is more successful in protecting the community or rehabilitating the offender. This is linked with a final concern, which is the dearth of data on those cases that prosecutors file in criminal court. The consensus among juvenile justice professionals is that handling more and more juvenile offenders as adults is bad policy, since it deals only with symptoms rather than underlying causes. Most hold that relatively few juveniles should be transferred to adult court, and this decision should rest with the juvenile court, since this court is more experienced in dealing with adolescents. 8 references