Mechanisms of Juvenile Transfer: Variations in Incarceration and Sentence Length in Criminal Court
Samuelson, Benta Katrine
Johnson, Brian D.
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The judge's ability to transfer a juvenile to adult court through judicial waiver has been in existence since the inception of the juvenile court in 1899. In response to increases in violent juvenile crime, state legislatures created and expanded juvenile transfer policies in the mid to late 1990's. Although many of these policies have been in effect for almost 15 years, there is little empirical work examining how type of transfer can affect sentencing outcomes in adult court. This study examines three of the most common juvenile transfer mechanisms (judicial waiver, statutory exclusion, and direct file) and their sentencing outcomes using a large, multi-jurisdictional sample. Results from this study indicate that juveniles transferred through direct file have the highest likelihood of incarceration while youths transferred through statutory exclusion face the harshest incarcerative sanctions. Findings regarding legal and extralegal characteristics are discussed as well as limitations and suggestions for future research.