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Diverting Youth From Juvenile Justice Transfer to Adult Court, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 539

Essay

What are the risks/benefits of juvenile “transfer” to the adult system?

According to McGowan et. al (2007), juvenile transfer to the adult system increases rather than decreases juvenile violence.  Many juveniles experience or perpetrate violence while in the adult system. Other research suggests that there is some benefit in the form of lower rearrest for juveniles committing person related crimes.  According to Fagan (2008), “Treating juveniles as adult criminals, is not effective as a means of crime control”.

Are these risks/benefits more or less apparent in certain forms of transfer (e.g., legislative, prosecutorial, judicial)?

In legislative and prosecutorial transfer there is usually a provision for a reverse transfer meaning that the youth can have the decision made regarding the transfer to an adult court reversed such that they can be tried in a juvenile court. This is not the case with judicial transfers. However, this benefit can also work against the youth in that the individual must file a petition within a limited number of days and must have the financial ability to pay for the process. When juveniles either don’t meet the deadline or cannot file for reverse transfer at all due to limited means they often develop increased resentment, anxiety or depression.  This comes from knowing there was a provision available that would have possibly resulted in an easier sentence or being sentenced to a less harsh facility but they were unable to take advantage of it (Schwalbe, Gearing, MacKenzie, Brewer, & Ibrahim, 2012).

What are some potential mechanisms by which we might explain the findings regarding the resuts of transfer policies reported by Fagan and McGowan et al.?

Legislative and prosecutorial transfer do not take into account the seriousness of offence or risk of reoffending such that low risk juveniles are negatively affected by their exposure to the adult court systems.  Automatic transfer of large groups of adolescence into the adult court system also doesn’t take into account the lack of neurological maturity, resulting in an increased negative impact of transfers on adolescents who don’t understand and can’t cope with what the adult system includes.

Should such results cause us to eliminate or modify transfer policies? (e) Why or why not?

The results of these studies should lead to eliminating transfer policies. The juvenile court system was originally based on the idea that juveniles being less mature than adults were not as culpable as adults and were more effected by peer pressure than adults.  In addition, juvenile systems were predicated on them reintegrate into life when they got out.  This is the most appropriate course of action for juveniles given they generally don’t consider the consequences of their actions and are less blameworthy than adult.

References

Fagan, J. (2008).  Juvenile crime and criminal justice: resolving border disputes. Future of Children 18: 81-118.

McGowan A, Hahn R, Liberman A, Crosby A, Fullilove M, Johnson R, Moscicki E, Price L, Snyder S, Tuma F, et al. (2007). Effects on violence of laws and policies facilitating the transfer of juveniles from the juvenile justice system to the adult justice system: a systematic review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 32(4 Suppl): S7-28.

Schwalbe, C.S., Gearing, R.E., MacKenzie, M.J., Brewer, K.B., Ibrahim, R. (2012). A meta-analysis of experimental studies of diversion programs for juvenile offenders. Clinical Psychology Review, 32, 26-33.

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