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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 136535 Find in a Library
Title: Waving Goodbye to Waiver for Serious Juvenile Offenders: A Proposal to Revamp California's Fitness Statute
Journal: Journal of Juvenile Law  Volume:11  Issue:1  Dated:(1990)  Pages:1-16
Author(s): M E Bellinger
Date Published: 1990
Page Count: 16
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article points out that serious juvenile crime in California increased substantially from 1988 through 1989 and that California continues to operate an outmoded system for removing serious juvenile offenders from the juvenile court system.
Abstract: The sharp increase in juvenile arrests from 13,998 in 1988 to 17,469 in 1989 represents an 11.4-percent increase in felony arrests. The most serious juvenile offenders in California risk being removed from the safe harbor of juvenile court and being tried in adult court through what has come to be known as the fitness hearing process. This juvenile court hearing is intended to determine if a particular juvenile is a fit and proper subject to be dealt with under juvenile court law. The California waiver statute, Section 707 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code, provides the juvenile court with criteria by which fitness determinations are to be made: degree of criminal sophistication exhibited by the minor; whether a minor can be rehabilitated prior to the expiration of the juvenile court's jurisdiction; the minor's previous delinquent history; success of previous attempts by the juvenile court to rehabilitate the minor; and circumstances and gravity of the offense alleged to have been committed by the minor. Several unsuccessful attempts have been made during the 1980's to amend Section 707, indicating the public's desire to hold a greater number of serious juvenile offenders criminally accountable as adults. The author proposes that a 16- or 17-year-old who commits a serious felony be automatically prosecuted as an adult with no fitness determination required. She contends that adolescents possess the same moral reasoning skills as adults and should therefore be treated as adults. 96 footnotes
Main Term(s): Serious juvenile offenders
Index Term(s): California; Juvenile court waiver; State juvenile laws
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