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NCJ Number: 200080 Find in a Library
Title: Critique of Waiver Research: Critical Next Steps in Assessing the Impacts of Laws for Transferring Juveniles to the Criminal Justice System
Journal: Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice  Volume:1  Issue:2  Dated:April 2003  Pages:156-172
Author(s): Daniel P. Mears
Date Published: April 2003
Page Count: 17
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article reviews research that has examined the primary intended and unintended impacts of the transfer of juveniles for processing in criminal courts and then discusses critical research gaps that must be addressed if there is to be a balanced and empirically informed assessment of the effectiveness of such waiver from juvenile to adult court.
Abstract: Historically, waivering juvenile offenders to adult court has been used to target two groups: youth who are "beyond rehabilitation" and whose presence in the juvenile justice system might undermine the system's integrity and youth who have committed offenses so terrible as to require the greater punishment available in the criminal justice system. From this perspective, waiver is effective if it results in greater punishment. At the same time, many States apparently have anticipated significant deterrent effects from waiver laws. This article considers research on each of these effects. In contrast to the stipulated goals in many statutes, waiver is often used for less serious property and drug offenders, results in less serious punishments than is typical of juvenile courts, and fails to achieve significant deterrent effects. Regarding whether waiver laws reduce juvenile recidivism, research findings are clearly mixed; some studies identify lower recidivism rates, some higher, and some no difference. Research shows that some of the unintended effects of waiver laws and their implementation are the inconsistent meaning and use of waiver; plea bargaining to more serious outcomes ("unofficial" use of wavier); net widening; limited competency and unfair or harmful sanctions; disparity in the use of waiver; lengthy pretrial detention, often in adult jail facilities; the increased likelihood of victimization among youth incarcerated in adult prisons; and perceptions and experiences of unfair processing. Future research should focus on providing increased and better information on the intended and unintended effects of waiver, a coherent rationale for waiver, systems-level responses to waiver, and the utility of waiver as a symbol of juvenile justice trends. 61 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile court waiver
Index Term(s): Deterrence effectiveness; Juvenile detention; Juvenile Recidivism; Juvenile rehabilitation; Net widening; Plea negotiations; Pretrial detention; Punishment; Serious juvenile offenders; Violent juvenile offenders
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