Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 38 Issue: 4 Dated: July/August 2010 Pages: 747-757
While the punishment of juvenile offenders has increasingly become an issue of major concern to the public, there are few studies that test the government's coercive response to offending by this particular group. This study addresses this issue by examining the variation in sentence length for juvenile offenders adjudicated in the adult criminal courts for violent offenses.
Results from the regression analyses consistently show that, while factors related to the specific offense are important contributors to the variation in sentence length, differences in the ideological climate of each state are a strong predictor of the variation in adult sanctions for minors. Specifically, the findings show that conservative citizen ideology and Republican control of State government are important contributors to the variation in sentencing of juveniles across U.S. States. Additional evidence shows that States where judges must run in an election to gain their seats proscribe more severe sanctions on juvenile offenders by sentencing more of them to adult prisons. Overall, the results suggest that the social and political climate of each state plays a very strong role in the sentencing of juvenile offenders to adult prisons. (Published Abstract)