Bullet New laws have had a dramatic impact on sentencing for serious or violent juvenile offenders
Figure 13 A trend away from traditional juvenile dispositions is emerging

Juvenile court dispositions were traditionally based on the offender's individual characteristics and situation. Dispositions were frequently indeterminate and generally had rehabilitation as a primary goal. As many States have shifted the purpose of juvenile court away from rehabilitation and toward punishment, accountability, and public safety, the emerging trend is toward dispositions based more on the offense than the offender. Offense-based dispositions tend to be determinate and proportional to the offense; retribution and deterrence replace rehabilitation as the primary goal.

Many State legislatures have changed disposition and sentencing options

From 1992 through 1997, statutes requiring mandatory minimum periods of incarceration for certain violent or serious offenders were added or modified in 16 States.

States have also raised the maximum age of the juvenile court's continuing jurisdiction over juvenile offenders. Such laws allow juvenile courts to order dispositions that extend beyond the upper age of original jurisdiction, most often to age 21. From 1992 through 1997, 17 States extended their age limit for delinquency dispositions.

Perhaps the most dramatic change will result from "blended sentences." Blended sentencing statutes, which allow courts to impose juvenile and/or adult correctional sanctions on certain young offenders, were in place in 20 States at the end of 1997.

1999 National Report Series, Juvenile Justice
Bulletin: Juvenile Justice: A Century of Change
December 1999