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Society's Retributive Response to Juvenile Violence: A Developmental Perspective

NCJ Number
Law and Human Behavior Volume: 20 Issue: 3 Dated: (June 1996) Pages: 229-247
T Grisso
Date Published
19 pages
This article examines theoretical and empirical challenges to a national trend toward punitive determinate sentences in juvenile court and "automatic transfer" of juveniles to criminal court for homicides and other serious violent offenses; recommendations are offered for relevant systematic research pertinent to this issue.
The juvenile justice system needs the option to transfer some adolescents to criminal court. Transfer serves important purposes for punishment, longer term incapacitation, and the protection and effective rehabilitation of other adolescents in juvenile treatment facilities and programs. On the other hand, substantial theoretical support is found for a developmental logic that renders many, perhaps most, adolescent violent offenders less blameworthy than adult offenders and more greatly at risk of injustice if tried in criminal courts. Empirical support for these arguments, however, must be greater than is currently the case, if they are to have any substantial influence on public policy and law. Three types of research would be helpful, identified by their objectives in dealing with public policy issues: research on risk and risk-reduction to address the public's perceptions of risks associated with mitigated responses to adolescent violence; research on developmental immaturity of mid-adolescents' abilities to make important choices in daily life; and research that examines public opinions about society's response to juvenile violence. 28 references