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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77327 Find in a Library
Title: Determinants and Impact of Jurisdictional Transfer in Philadelphia (From Major Issues in Juvenile Justice Information and Training Readings in Public Policy, P 333-350, 1981, John C Hall et al, ed. - See NCJ-77318)
Author(s): J P Eigen
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 18
Sponsoring Agency: Academy for Contemporary Problems
Sale Source: Academy for Contemporary Problems
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Juveniles who committed homicides and robberies in 1970 and 1973, respectively, in Philadelphia were studied to determine how some were certified for transfer to adult criminal court and the impact of these transfers on the sanctions imposed.
Abstract: The subjects were divided into three categories: juveniles who remained in juvenile court, juveniles transferred to adult court, and adults. The juvenile homicide sample contained 63 separate fatal attacks in which 154 youths were arrested in 1970. The 1973 robbery sample consisted of all 16 juveniles arrested and transferred to criminal court, as well as random samples of juveniles retained by juvenile court and adults charged with robberty. About half of the juveniles arrested for homicide and only 1.6 percent of the robbery defendants were transferred to criminal court. In homicide cases, the main factor influencing transfer seemed to be the offender's role in the killing, although black youths who killed white victims tended to be transferred regardless of their role in the killing. Few of these cases were dismissed before trial in adult court, and in the case of felony murder cases, all were either convicted or pleaded guilty. Juvenile sentences were as harsh or harsher than adult sentences. In the robbery study, the key variables affecting transfer appeared to be the type of robbery and the histories of previous institutionalization. Youthful offenders certified in robberies faced almost assured convictions and stiff penalties. Both studies showed that when two factors were present, such as prior criminal record and age of 17 years, the risk of transfer to adult court remained relatively low. However, the risk increased to almost 100 percent when three factors were present, such as criminal record, inflicted wounds, and age 17. Findings indicated that the decision to waive jurisdiction is the most punishing decision that the family court can make. The overlap between the characteristics of juveniles transferred to adult court and those not transferred, combined with the paucity of substantive guidelines justifying transfer, makes the existence of certification questionable. Charts, tables, and footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Comparative analysis; Judicial discretion; Juvenile court waiver; Juvenile murderers; Pennsylvania; Robbery; Sentencing disparity
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