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NCJ Number: 208322 Find in a Library
Title: Pennsylvania-Based Study Examines How Courts Sentence Transferred Juveniles
Journal: Juvenile Justice Update  Volume:10  Issue:5  Dated:October/November 2004  Pages:9,11
Editor(s): Lisa R. Lipman
Date Published: October 2004
Page Count: 2
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study of the sentences given to juveniles transferred to criminal court in Pennsylvania found that they were more severe than those received by young adults convicted of similar offenses.
Abstract: In 1996, Pennsylvania established adult court jurisdiction over cases that involve juvenile offenders (ages 15 to 17 years old) who are charged with one of several specified violent felony offenses while using a deadly weapon, or who are charged with a specified violent offense and have a previous adjudication for such an offense. The current study examined the sentencing in all criminal court cases processed between 1997 and 1999 that involved two groups: offenders under age 18 at the time of the offense and offenders between 18 and 24 years old at the time of their offense. Each case was classified according to the most serious offense for which sentencing was dispensed. The final sample consisted of 1,042 juvenile offenders who ranged in age from 14 to 17 years old at the time of their crime and 33,962 young adult offenders convicted of comparable crimes. Sentences were scored with a severity scale that ranged from 0 to 240 months of incarceration. Independent variables included juvenile status, offender age, offense severity, prior record, demographic variables, and variables that denoted whether the sentence was the result of a negotiated or non-negotiated plea, as well as whether it resulted from a jury trial or bench trial. On average, juveniles received sentences that were 83 percent more severe than those received by the young adults, even controlling for legal factors such as offense seriousness, prior record, and the application of a mandatory sentence. One explanation for these findings is that transfer to adult court signifies to judges and prosecutors that the juvenile is more dangerous, sophisticated, or incorrigible than young adults convicted of similar offenses. 4 suggested readings
Main Term(s): Juvenile sentencing
Index Term(s): Comparative analysis; Juvenile court waiver; Pennsylvania; Serious juvenile offenders
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