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NCJ Number: 99383 Find in a Library
Title: Discretionary Waiver of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction - An Invitation to Procedural Arbitrariness
Journal: Criminal Justice Ethics  Volume:3  Issue:2  Dated:(Summer/Fall 1984)  Pages:41-50
Author(s): S Wizner
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 10
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Following an examination of criticisms of the juvenile court system and the legal mechanisms and rationales for transferring juvenile offenders to adult courts, the reality of such waivers is examined and recommendations are made for improving the present system.
Abstract: Criticisms of waiver use within the juvenile court system focus on its unbridled discretion, rehabilitative ineffectiveness, punitive realities, and potential for procedural arbitrariness. At present, the four major mechanisms for transfers are judicial waiver, concurrent jurisdiction, legislative exclusion, and lowered age of jurisdiction. However, because of the vagueness and multiplicity of waiver criteria and the excessively discretionary nature of transfer decisions, current practices facilitate procedural arbitrariness and undermine the adversary nature of decisionmaking upon which the legal system is based. Further, although protection of the public safety and the need for a means for dealing with the serious and violent offender are the chief rationales put forth for transfers to adult courts, an examination of data shows that most juvenile transfers involve adolescents charged with property, public order, and miscellaneous minor offenses. Additionally, most of these offenders receive no prison sentences at all, and only a very few receive longer sentences than they would have received in the juvenile court. Because the current waiver system is irrational and chaotic, there is a need for an adversary process in waiver decisionmaking. This should contain four elements: a statutory definition of juveniles eligible for transfer; a statutory list of factual criteria including probable cause that the offense was committed, aggravating circumstances, and prior record; prior rehabilitative efforts; and outcomes. Additional difficulties in the present system could be ameliorated by the implementation of a unified, overlapping, three-tiered court system consisting of juvenile, youthful offender, and adult divisions. Such a system would better reflect the gradual transition from juvenile to adult status and would reduce the impact of discretionary decisions by providing a broader range of courts and penalties. Included are 62 footnotes.
Index Term(s): Court reform; Discretionary decisions; Juvenile court waiver; Juvenile day treatment services; Serious juvenile offenders
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