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No Place for A Child: Direct File of Juveniles Comes at a High Cost; Time to Fix Statutes

01 Jan 2016-
TL;DR: More than 12,000 children have been tried as adults in Florida over the last five years and 98 percent of these children are “direct filed” in adult court by prosecutors with no hearing, due process, oversight or input from a judge as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: At the turn of the 20th century, advocates of an alternate court process for juveniles highlighted problems that existed with prosecuting court-involved children in adult court where they principally faced punishment and surveillance. As an alternative, these advocates established juvenile courts, which reduced the severity of punishment and combined it with rehabilitative regimes and programs aimed at turning children’s lives around. The first Juvenile Court was founded in Chicago and its guiding principles were that childhood should be a protected stage of life, that children were less culpable for their actions than adults, and that children were more receptive to reform and rehabilitation. Despite the juvenile courts’ founding principle that children are fundamentally different from adults, juvenile courts have historically allowed some children to be prosecuted as adults in adult criminal court. A small minority of children, it was thought, were either not suitable for rehabilitation or were charged with politically-fraught offenses that might destabilize or delegitimize the juvenile court. These rare cases resulted in the occasional prosecution of children in adult court. Since 2009, more than 12,000 children have been tried as adults in Florida over the last five years1 -98 percent of these children are “direct filed” in adult court by prosecutors with no hearing, due process, oversight or input from a judge.2 This is because in Florida, prosecutors have virtually unfettered discretion to decide which children to try as adults. Florida currently has the highest number of adult transfers reported of any state. It would be easy to come to the conclusion that when a child is tried
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors examined the recidivism of 2,738 juvenile offenders who were transferred to criminal court in Florida in 1987 and compared with that of a matched sample of delinquents who were retained in the juvenile system.
Abstract: Recidivism of 2,738 juvenile offenders who were transferred to criminal court in Florida in 1987 was compared with that of a matched sample of delinquents who were retained in the juvenile system. Recidivism was examined in terms of rates of reoffending, seriousness of reoffending, and time to failure, with appropriate adjustments made for time at risk. By every measure of recidivism employed, reoffending was greater among transfers than among the matched controls.

223 citations

Book
01 Jan 2000
TL;DR: The authors provides an overview of the origins and development of law and contemporary policy on the jurisdiction of adolescents and examines the effects of jurisdictional shifts, and offers insight into the developmental and psychological aspects of current and future reforms.
Abstract: Since the 1960s, recurring cycles of political activism over youth crime have motivated efforts to remove adolescents from the juvenile court. Periodic surges of crime - youth violence in the 1970s, the spread of gangs in the 1980s, and more recently, epidemic gun violence and drug-related crime - have spurred laws and policies aimed at narrowing the reach of the juvenile court. Despite declining juvenile crime rates, every state in the country has increased the number of youths tried and punished as adults. Research in this area has not kept pace with these legislative developments. There has not been a detailed, sociolegal analytic book devoted to this topic. In this collection, researchers discuss policy, substantive procedural and empirical dimensions of waivers, and where the boundaries of the courts lie. Part 1 provides an overview of the origins and development of law and contemporary policy on the jurisdiction of adolescents. Part 2 examines the effects of jurisdictional shifts. Part 3 offers insight into the developmental and psychological aspects of current and future reforms.

176 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Most state legislatures have instituted punitive reforms in response to rising rates of youth crime, including provisions that transfer an increasing number and range of adolescents to criminal courts for adult prosecution.
Abstract: Most state legislatures have instituted punitive reforms in response to rising rates of youth crime, including provisions that transfer an increasing number and range of adolescents to criminal courts for adult prosecution. Proponents assert that juvenile court sanctions and services constitute neither just nor effective responses to savvy juvenile offenders and propose that criminal prosecution will insure more proportionate punishments, provide more effective deterrence, and achieve greater incapacitation. The empirical evidence is too limited to be definitive, but it suggests that most of those assertions are wrong. Expansive transfer policies send many minor and nonthreatening offenders to the adult system, exacerbate racial disparities, and move adolescents with special needs into correctional systems ill prepared to handle them. Transfer results in more severe penalties for some offenders, but there is no evidence that it achieves either general or specific deterrent effects. There is credible evide...

149 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: A long-term recidivism study was conducted in Florida on matched pairs of juveniles, where one subject in each pair had been transferred to the adult system in 1987 and the other had not as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: A long-term recidivism study was conducted in Florida on matched pairs of juveniles, where one subject in each pair had been transferred to the adult system in 1987 and the other had not. Rearrest information on the pairs from their release from sanctions through November 1994 was used to determine the probabilities of rearrest and the times to rearrest of transfers and nontransfers, adjusting for time at risk. Transfer diminished the rearrest chances for property felons, an advantage that was offset by an enhanced probability of rearrest among transfers for other offense categories. Survival analysis showed that transfers were rearrested more quickly and were rearrested more times on average.

148 citations

30 Nov 2007
TL;DR: A systematic review of published scientific evidence indicates that transfer to the adult criminal justice system typically increases rather than decreases rates of violence among transferred youth, and the Task Force recommends against laws or policies facilitating the transfer of juveniles to the Adult Criminal justice system for the purpose of reducing violence.
Abstract: The independent, nonfederal Task Force on Community Preventive Services (Task Force), which directs the development of the Guide to Community Preventive Services (Community Guide), conducted a systematic review of published scientific evidence concerning the effectiveness of laws and policies that facilitate the transfer of juveniles to the adult criminal justice system to determine whether these transfers prevent or reduce violence among youth who have been transferred and among the juvenile population as a whole. For this review, transfer is defined as placing juveniles aged <18 years under the jurisdiction of the adult criminal justice system. The review followed Community Guide methods for conducting a systematic review of literature and for providing recommendations to public health decision makers. Available evidence indicates that transfer to the adult criminal justice system typically increases rather than decreases rates of violence among transferred youth. Available evidence was insufficient to determine the effect of transfer laws and policies on levels of violent crime in the overall juvenile population. On the basis of these findings, the Task Force recommends against laws or policies facilitating the transfer of juveniles to the adult criminal justice system for the purpose of reducing violence.

126 citations