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Transferring Juvenile Defendants From Adult to Juvenile Court: How Forensic Evaluators and Judges Reach Their Decisions

The purpose of the study was to determine how often Maryland judges agreed with the opinions of forensic evaluators in deciding whether to transfer youthful defendants to juvenile court from adult court and to investigate which factors were most important in the opinions of the evaluators and the final decisions of the judges. Data were extracted from a sample of 200 waiver evaluations, and case outcomes were determined. Factors were examined with both univariate analysis and logistic regression models, to find correlates to and predictors of judges’ decisions and evaluators’ opinions. The most important factor influencing the decision of the judges was the forensic evaluators’ opinions. Logistic regression analysis identified three factors that were significant predictors of the evaluator’s opinion: public safety risk, history of the involvement of Department of Juvenile Services, and defendant’s age at the time of the offense. The judges’ decisions correlated strongly with the forensic evaluators’ opinions.