State By State

 

Arizona
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Illinois
Maryland
Massachusetts
New Jersey
New York
North Carolina
Ohio
Oregon
Texas
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
Wisconsin
Wyoming

 



Arizona [return to top]

 

Improving Public Safety by Keeping Youth Out of the Adult Criminal Justice System (2010)
This report by The Children's Action Alliance provides the most recent data and policy recommendations concerning youth tried as adults in Arizona.  According to the report, in 2009 there were over 600 youth prosecuted as adults. More than one-quarter (29%) of these youth were not charged with violent offenses, but were charged with property or misdemeanor crimes. Forty percent of youth were charged automatically in adult court based on the nature of the crime they were charged with and their age; another 16% were automatically charged in adult court based on their age, offense, and offense history. More than one-third (37%) of the youth were charged at the sole discretion of the prosecutor. Less than 10% of youth were transferred to adult court after a hearing in which a juvenile court judge had the opportunity to examine all of the circumstances in the case. Youth of color were particularly harmed by these laws: more than half of the youth prosecuted as adults were Hispanic and 17% were African American. The recommendations of the report include: 1) modifying the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to ensure youth get the services they need; 2) making changes to the transfer laws to prevent youth from ending up in the adult system; 3) changing the custodial interrogation procedures to be age and developmentally appropriate; and 4) developing more suitable sanctions for youth who are sentenced in adult court.

 

Juveniles Processed in the Arizona Court System (2010)
The Juvenile Justice Services Division of the Arizona Supreme Court regularly produces system reports that provide an overview of the juveniles processed at various stages of the juvenile justice system statewide during each fiscal year, including extensive data about youth prosecuted as adults.

 

 

California [return to top]

Juvenile Justice in California 2009 (2010)
The Criminal Justice Statistics Center in California provides annual reports about the juvenile justice system in California, including extensive data about youth prosecuted as adults.

Consequences Report – California Chapter (2007)
In March 2007, the Campaign for Youth Justice released the Consequences Aren’t Minor a study examining the laws and data from seven key states.

An analysis of direct adult criminal court filing 2003-2009: What has been the effect of Proposition 21? (2011)
In August 2011, the Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice released a report studying the practice of direct-filing in California from 2003 - 2009.

 

 

Colorado [return to top]

Re-Directing Justice: The Consequences of Prosecuting Youth as Adults and the Need to Restore Judicial Oversight (March 2012)
The Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition released this report in March 2012 about the effect of direct file in Colorado, which gives prosecutors unilateral discretion to file charges against children in adult criminal court.

Crime and Justice in Colorado – Juvenile Justice in 2008-2010 (2011) (link)
The Colorado Department of Public Safety Office of Research and Statistics provides annual reports about the juvenile justice system in Colorado, including extensive data about youth prosecuted as adults.

Caging Children in Crisis (nd)
This report by the Colorado Defender Coalition details the dangers of placing youth in adult jails. Under Colorado law, a youth who is charged as an adult is held pretrial in an adult jail without considering whether the youth could be held safely in a juvenile detention facility. The report found that Colorado's jails were neither built nor equipped to hold youth. They lack developmentally appropriate programs and structure, and staff have limited training to prepare them to work with incarcerated youth. Because youth are at greater risk of abuse, they are often kept in isolation, which further denies them access to programs and recreation that is available to adult inmates. These conditions can lead to acts of self-harm and suicide.

 

 

Connecticut [return to top]

Juvenile Justice Reform in Connecticut: How Collaboration and Commitment Have Improved Public Safety and Outcomes for Youth (2013)

Juvenile Justice Reform in Connecticut highlights the past two decades of Connecticut’s successful efforts to improve responses to youth who engage in delinquent behavior and to reduce the number of youth placed into detention centers, correctional training schools, and/or other residential facilities.Specifically, the state reduced residential commitments from 680 in 2000 to 216 in 2011 (nearly 70 percent), even though most 16 year-olds, who were previously treated as adults, are now handled in the juvenile system. The state has also closed one of its three state-operated detention centers, and reduced the under 18 population in Connecticut's adult prisons from 403 in January 2007 to 151 in July 2012. Meanwhile, Connecticut expanded its investment in evidence-based, family-focused adolescent treatment programs from $300,000 in 2000 to $39 million in 2009.

Safe and Sound (2010)
This Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance report analyzes a decade of data to demonstrate how juvenile justice reform in the state was accompanied by a decrease in juvenile crime, violent crime and recidivism. By holding youth accountable through community based programs and using expensive alternatives, such as incarceration, sparingly, reforms have saved the state money as well.

Juvenile Jurisdiction Planning and Implementation Committee Final Report (2007)
This is the final report of the Juvenile Jurisdiction Planning and Implementation Committee (the Committee) established by the Connecticut General Assembly in 2006. This report provides realistic and concrete steps to bring 16- and 17-year-olds into the juvenile justice system in a timely, effective, and fiscally prudent manner.

Juvenile Jurisdiction Policy and Operations Coordinating Council (JJPOCC)
This link contains presentations and materials related to planning for the implementation of the “Raise the Age” legislation to expand juvenile court jurisdiction from sixteen to eighteen.

From Trauma to Tragedy: Connecticut Girls in Adult Prison (2008)
The Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) in the State of Connecticut released this briefing paper to provide an extensive account of how Connecticut has failed to meet the needs of girls prosecuted in the adult system. Connecticut currently prosecutes all 16- to 18-year-olds in the adult system, but that will change as a result of the "Raise the Age" legislation that passed in 2007. The OCA found that more than 90% of the girls had either current or historical involvement with the Department of Children and Families (DCF), and nearly half of the girls had a current open case. Among the open DCF cases, 43% had bond amounts less than $5,000 and 17% had bond amounts less than $2,500. Instead of paying the 10% of the bond amount to obtain the girls' releases, girls are kept at York Correctional Institution (YCI), Connecticut's only prison for adult women. YCI has a capacity for approximately 1,400 adult women. The majority of the girls are housed in the prison's maximum-security area for adult women. Girls are completely isolated in their cells on the maximum-security side of the prison as part of an effort to maintain sight and sound separation from the adult women. The girls reside separately from the women on a lower tier (hallway) in single or double cells. Each 5x8 cell has a metal bunk bed, a writing surface, an open toilet and a small sink. Girls must use an intercom and buzzer to communicate with the DOC correctional officers who are stationed up a flight of stairs. The older girls (ages 16 and 17) left their cells only for meals, school, and during one hour for exercise, make phone calls, and shower. The younger girls (age 15 or younger) were placed together in a single cell for nearly 23 hours a day. They did not attend school and took all meals in their cell.

Consequences Report – Connecticut Chapter (2007)
In March 2007, the Campaign for Youth Justice released the Consequences Aren’t Minor a study examining the laws and data from seven key states.

Economic Impact of Raising the Age of Juvenile Jurisdiction in Connecticut (2006)
In February 2006, John Roman, researcher in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, provided an economic analysis of raising the age of jurisdiction from 16 to 18 to the Judiciary and Appropriations Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly.

 

 

Delaware [return to top]

Understanding Changes in the Delaware Juvenile Amenability Population (2008)
This presentation by Jack O’Connell and Jorge Rodriguez of the Delaware Statistical Analysis Center explains the impact of HB 210 and SB 200 on youth prosecuted as adults.

SB 200: Balancing Sentencing in Delaware Juvenile Amenability Laws (2006)
This presentation by Chief Family Court Judge Chandlee Johnson Kuhn explains the impact of SB 200 on Delaware.

An Analysis of the Implementation of HB 210 (2005)
This report by the Delaware Statistical Analysis Center explains the impact of HB 210 on juvenile offenders.

Transfer of Juvenile Offenders to Adult Court in Delaware (nd)
This policy paper by Timothy Brandau, Ph.D., provides an explanation of the effect of HB. 210, a law that increased the number of youth prosecuted as adults.

 

District of Columbia [return to top]

D.C. Youth in Adult Court (2011)
This report by Jennifer Black at the University of California, Washington, D.C. explores recent reforms to Washington, D.C.’s juvenile justice system. The report found that these reforms, which offer youth the benefits of evidence-based rehabilitation and treatment through a variety of alternative programs and community-based initiatives, stand in stark contrast to the dearth of opportunities available to D.C. youth who are transferred out of the juvenile justice system and into the adult criminal justice system by way of either a judicial waiver or prosecutorial direct file. The report includes empirical research that has found consistently for the past few decades that transfer laws do not reduce crime, make a youth more likely to reoffend, are cost-ineffective, and cause a variety of bodily and mental health dangers to children who are sentenced to adult facilities and prisons. The consequences of these transfer laws are examined in regards to the arbitrary nature of the very law itself, the disproportionate way that youth of color are affected by the waivers, and the outcomes for the neighborhoods that are most influenced by waivers. Alternatives to incarceration and transfer laws are examined and ultimately found to help the economic viability of communities, prevent recidivism, and help children avoid a life of crime.

Notorious to Notable (2011)
A report released by the Moriah Fund, the Carter and Melissa Cafritz Charitable Trust, the Meyer Foundation, and the Public Welfare Foundation shows how a collaborative effort between local D.C. foundations and national funders supported the transformation of the District’s juvenile justice agency. The report details how the agency was transformed from one of the worst to one of the most notable.

A Capital Offense (2007)
This report by the Campaign for Youth Justice provides an explanation of the laws allowing youth to be prosecuted as adults, and provides several strategies for reform.

Mayor's Blue Ribbon Commission (2001)
The District of Columbia Blue Ribbon Commission on Youth Safety and Juvenile Justice Reform was established by Mayor Anthony Williams in 2000. Commission members were charged with the responsibility to offer policy recommendations to address youth safety and the juvenile justice system. Major themes in the Commission's charge included: an assessment of youth crime prevention strategies and model programs; the identification of strengths and weaknesses in rehabilitative and supportive services and programs; an exploration of research related to the impact of youth violence and substance abuse among youth; an examination of the strengths and weaknesses of current institutional systems; an examination of the strengths and weaknesses of current institutional systems; and the development of strategies for serving children and youth in their communities and neighborhoods. In addition, Mayor Williams issued an explicit call for a vision and seamless network of youth service ideals that "treat children as children." 

 

Florida [return to top]

Blueprint Commission Report (2008)
This report by the Blueprint Commission on Juvenile Justice provided findings and recommendations on ways to improve the juvenile justice system in Florida.  The report shows that the trend to charge juveniles as adults has increased. Though the total number of youth referred to the Department of Juvenile Justice declined more than 6% from 2003-2007, the number of youth referred to adult court increased 23%. Of equal concern is the disproportionate number of black youth who are prosecuted as adults. Between 2003 and 2007, from 52% to 57% of all youth prosecuted as adults were black, even though they make up only 21% of Florida’s population of youth age 10-17 and only 39% of all youth referred to the Department of Juvenile Justice. During Commission meetings, the reasons behind and ramifications of decisions to prosecute youth as adults generated great debate, but Commissioners lacked the time to fully resolve their varied views. It was recommended that the Governor or Legislature appoint a committee to review this issue further.

Consequences Report – Florida Chapter (2007)
In March 2007, the Campaign for Youth Justice released the Consequences Aren’t Minor a study examining the laws and data from seven key states.

Juvenile Transfer to Criminal Court Study (2002)
This landmark study by researchers Lonn Lanza-Kaduce, Charles E. Frazier, Jodi Lane, and Donna M. Bishop, is an extensive five-year study that found that youth who receive sanctions and rehabilitation in Florida’s juvenile justice system have a lower rate of recidivism than their counterparts who have been transferred to adult court.  Of 630 youth in carefully matched pairs of transferred and department youth, 49% of the youth transferred to adult court recidivated, compared to 37% of those who remained in the juvenile system.  Those transferred to the adult system committed more serious felonies.

 

 

Illinois [return to top]

The Future of 17-year-olds in Illinois' justice system: Raising the Age of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction (2013)
Legislation signed in 2009 (Public Act 095-1031) provided that 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors would move from adult to juvenile court jurisdiction effective January 1, 2010. The legislation also mandated the state study the impact of the new law and make recommendations concerning raising the juvenile court age to 17 for felony charges. Subsequent legislation (Public Act 096-1199) directed the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission to study and present findings to the legislature.

The resulting report, Raising the Age of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction, is available in its entirety here.

Changing Course: A Review of the First Two Years of Drug Transfer Reform in Illinois (2008)
Illinois, the state where the nation's first juvenile court was founded, also has the dubious distinction of enacting some of the nation's first laws that funneled children into adult criminal courts. Illinois' drug transfer laws, adopted in the 1980s, required 15- and 16-year olds to be automatically tried as adults for drug offenses that occurred within 1,000 feet of schools or public housing. This automatic transfer provision prohibited judges from determining whether children accused of certain drug offenses should remain in the juvenile justice system. Instead, children were automatically processed through the adult criminal system for these offenses.  Youth of color made up 99% of transfers, causing the law to be called the most racially-biased juvenile drug transfer law in the nation.  This report by the Illinois Juvenile Justice Initiative found that the 2005 repeal of the drug transfer law has not compromised public safety. Instead, the law repeal has provided hundreds of Illinois youth greater opportunities to turn their lives around. Following the repeal of the law in 2005, the number of youth automatically sent to adult courts has been lowered by two-thirds, with no detrimental impact on public safety, according to the JJI report. There has also been no increase in juvenile court caseloads or waivers to adult courtrooms.

Consequences Report – Illinois Chapter (2007)
In March 2007, the Campaign for Youth Justice released the Consequences Aren’t Minor a study examining the laws and data from seven key states.

 

 

Maryland [return to top]

Just Kids: Baltimore’s Youth in the Adult Criminal Justice System
This report by the Just Kids Partnership provides evidence that the practice of transferring youth to the adult criminal justice system is unnecessary in Maryland. The Just Kids Partnership followed 135 individual cases of youth charged as adults in Baltimore city and found that nearly 68% of the youth awaiting trial in Baltimore's adult criminal justice system had their cases either sent to the juvenile court system or dismissed. Despite the high proportion of reverse transfer, on average, youth spend almost 5 months in adult jail before a hearing to consider whether the youth should be returned to the juvenile system. Only 10% of the youth actually tried in the adult system received sentences of time in adult prisons. Further, only 13 of the 135 cases in the study that began between January and June of 2009 had been resolved by August of 2010, and therefore, 90% of the youth spent up to 16 months in adult facilities with no conviction and no mandatory rehabilitative services.

NCCD Facility Population Study (2011)
The National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) has released its forecast for future bed space needs for youth under age 18 who are detained in the adult criminal justice system in the City of Baltimore, Maryland. These youth are processed and, if necessary, detained in the adult system—currently in the Juvenile Unit of the Baltimore City Detention Center— after being charged with certain crimes that require automatic involvement in the adult justice system (known as an automatic waiver) or after being sent to the adult system by a juvenile court judge (known as a judicial waiver). NCCD was asked by the State of Maryland, the Open Society Institute Baltimore, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation to make an independent forecast to inform decisions about construction of a new jail for youth charged as adults. Adjusted for normal fluctuations in inmate population, the projected need for adult detention beds for youth under 18 is substantially lower than the 180-bed forecast released by the State in 2007.

Pretrial Detention of Youths Prosecuted As Adults (2011)
Every year approximately 1,200 youth under the age of eighteen are charged criminally as adults in Maryland. These youth are generally detained in adult jails pending trial, for a period of time often lasting from six months to more than a year. The ramifications of this practice are far-reaching. National studies consistently indicate that the prosecution and detention of juveniles in the adult criminal justice system places youth at increased risk of harm, is an inefficient use of public funds and does little to reduce recidivism or deter criminal activity. In fact, it often has the opposite effect. And yet the practice continues, in part due to a lack of public education and informed dialogue on the subject.

 

 

Massachusetts [return to top]

Minor Transgressions, Major Consequences: A picture of 17-year-olds in the Massachusetts criminal justice system (2011)
Every year, Massachusetts sends thousands of high-school-aged kids charged with minor, non-violent offenses into our adult criminal justice system. They are put in the adult system simply because they have turned 17 - despite research showing that treating kids as adults actually increases crime and despite the fact that teens incarcerated in the adult system often cannot attend school or receive other age-appropriate services.

The current system is costly, not just for kids and families involved, but for all Massachusetts taxpayers. Higher crime means stretched police resources, increased court and jail costs, and more expenditures to help victims of crime. IN the long run, losing more children to crime also means fewer high school graduates and taxpayers, and more consumers of public benefits, substance abuse services, and other safety-net resources.

 

New Jersey [return to top]

Waiving Hope: An Analysis of the Juvenile Waiver Process in New Jersey (2008)
This report by the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellows of Princeton University's Domestic Policy Workshop analyzes the original intent and actual impact of the waiver system in the State of New Jersey.

 

 

New York [return to top]

Advancing a Fair and Just Age of Criminal Responsibility for Youth in New York State (2011)
The New York Governor's Children's Cabinet Advisory Board, co-chaired by Geoffrey Canada and Michael Weiner, issued this policy paper recommending that New York establish a task force to examine increasing the age of criminal responsibility, the Juvenile Offender laws, and adequate funding for community based juvenile justice programs.

 

 

North Carolina [return to top]

Youth Accountability Planning Task Force Report (2011)
Legislation in 2009 created the Youth Accountability Planning Task Force. The main directive for the Task Force was to design an implementation plan by which North Carolina could expand the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to include 16- and 17-year-olds. Members were asked to consider a number of issues in designing the plan: costs to the state court system, costs to state and local law enforcement, motor vehicle laws, expunction laws, proposals to eliminate racial disparity in the juvenile justice process, community programs that emphasize rehabilitation for juveniles and follow best practices, costs to the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, other laws related to juvenile age such as school attendance laws, and transfer laws. Recommendations in those areas were to be submitted to the General Assembly in January 2011.  This report offers a summary of the meetings held and information gathered by the Task Force, descriptions of its recommendations, and detailed appendices for supporting information.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Raising the Age of Juvenile Jurisdiction in North Carolina (2011)
The Vera Institute of Justice conducted a cost-benefit analysis of implementing a plan to transfer 16- and 17-year-olds who commit misdemeanor and low-level, non-violent felony offenses to the juvenile system in North Carolina.  The cost-benefit analysis shows that this specific plan to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction in North Carolina will cost taxpayers $70.9 million a year, but that this annually reoccurring investment will generate $123.1 million in reoccurring benefits to youth, victims, and taxpayers over the long term. These results indicate that the benefits of the plan outweigh the costs and that, from a cost-benefit standpoint, the policy change merits consideration.

Governor’s Crime Commission Juvenile Age Study (2009)
The Governor’s Crime Commission was directed to study the impact of raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction in North Carolina. The Crime Commission formed an Advisory Committee and worked with outside groups to do the study. The end result of the work is this report which has three main parts: 1) a cost-benefit analysis; 2) an implementation and action plan; and 3) legal analysis.

Juvenile Justice in NC: A Historical Perspective (2009)
This PowerPoint presentation by Professor Janet Mason, University of North Carolina School of Government, provides a comprehensive overview of the evolution of juvenile justice policies in North Carolina.

North Carolina, Juvenile Court Jurisdiction, and the Resistance to Reform (2008)
This law review article by Professor Tamar Birckhead examines the repeated attempts by advocates and lawmakers to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction in North Carolina. This article traces nearly 100 years of history of the failure of the state of North Carolina to extend juvenile court jurisdiction to 16- and 17-year-olds. Professor Birckhead suggests several reasons for the failure to raise the age, including: claims by opponents that the existing juvenile justice system is already underfunded; the fear of "coddling" youth; and the continued reluctance of the bench and bar to view juvenile court as a critical forum requiring specialization and commitment from its participants, rather than a mere training ground for inexperienced judges and lawyers.

Putting the Juvenile Back in Juvenile Justice (2007)
This report by Action for Children North Carolina explores why transferring youth to the adult criminal system is not working and what can be done about it. First, the report looks at the latest scientific research on adolescent brain development, which shows that teenagers’ brains are still developing adult reasoning capabilities and that environmental influences affect this development. Second, the report examines North Carolina and national data that show that transferring youth to the adult criminal system (versus treating them in a juvenile justice system) decreases public safety. Finally, the report puts forward policy recommendations for how North Carolina can bring state criminal law regarding older youth into line with current practices, research and data.

Adolescent Offenders and the Line Between the Juvenile and Criminal Justice Systems (2007)
This briefing report prepared by the Duke University Center for Child and Family Policy provides background and recent history on the handling of adolescent offenders in the United States and North Carolina; a description of how the current North Carolina juvenile justice system works; recent North Carolina juvenile justice statistics; and information on programs and facilities for adolescent offenders in North Carolina and other states.

Consequences Report – North Carolina Chapter (2007)
In March 2007, the Campaign for Youth Justice released the Consequences Aren’t Minor a study examining the laws and data from seven key states.

 

 

Ohio [return to top]

Falling Through the Cracks: A New Look at Ohio Youth in the Adult Criminal Justice System (May 2012)
Falling Through the Cracks: A New Look at Ohio Youth in the Adult Criminal Justice System takes an in-depth look at how Ohio laws have changed to make it increasingly easier for youth to come into contact with the adult criminal justice system and the harmful effects of these policies. The report finds that over 300 youth are processed in adult court or placed in adult jails and prisons each year in Ohio resulting in decreased public safety, exposure of youth to long-lasting harms and barriers to success in the future.

The report recommends that Ohio reduce the number of youth eligible for prosecution in adult court, allow all youth to receive judicial review of their cases, and ensure that youth are held in safe, humane conditions and can recieve programming that will help them return to their communities as productive citizens.

Executive Summary

In Their Own Words (May 2012)
Along with Falling Through the Cracks, Children's Law Center released a series of stories that go beyond the data and research and tell the stories of eight individuals - four bound over youth and four family members of bound over youth - who have firsthand knowledge of what it is like to be bound over or have a loved one bound over to adult court.

Evaluating Juvenile Justice in Ohio (2009)
The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Ohio, the Children's Law Center, Inc., and the Office of the Ohio Public Defender released a report card on the status of juvenile justice in the state of Ohio. The Ohio juvenile justice system received a C- for juvenile transfers.

 

 

Oregon [return to top]

Misguided Measures: The Outcomes and Impacts of Measure 11 on Oregon’s Youth (2011)
Campaign for Youth Justice and Partnership for Safety and Justice co-released this report that evaluates the way that Oregon’s Measure 11 has affected juvenile crime in the 15 years since it was enacted. In 1994, Oregon voters passed Measure 11 which imposed long mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes and required that youth charged with those crimes be automatically prosecuted as adults. The report examines the detrimental impact of Measure 11 in a thorough, in-depth analysis of its effect on youth and public safety in Oregon. According to the data, Measure 11 has not made Oregon any safer. In fact, most youth charged with Measure 11 offenses are not the most serious youth offenders, but they receive the most serious sentences, little to no rehabilitative services, and face lifelong barriers to becoming productive citizens even after they have served their sentence. The report provides clear reasons why the public should reconsider Measure 11 for juveniles in addition to a list of recommendations that incorporate the latest research on curbing juvenile delinquency and recidivism in order to improve youth justice policies and increase public safety in Oregon.

Fact Sheet
Executive Summary

Oregon’s Measure 11 Sentencing Reform (2004)
This report by the RAND Corporation presents the findings of a study of the implementation and outcomes of Measure 11 across the state as a whole and within three counties, undertaken at the request of the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission. It draws upon state-level databases and interviews with state and county stakeholders to answer key questions about how the measure was developed; its relationship to the existing sentencing practices in the state; impacts on the types of sentences imposed, admissions to prison, and sentence lengths imposed; and changes in sentencing practices for both adults and youths.

 

 

Texas [return to top]

Conditions for Certified Juveniles in Texas County Jails (2012)
Michele Deitch wrote a report, Conditions for Certified Juveniles in Texas County Jails, which provides a comprehensive picture of the conditions for certified juveniles awaiting trial in adult county jails based on a survey of 41 jails across the state of Texas.

Juveniles in the Adult Criminal Justice System in Texas (2011)
Michele Deitch, Senior Lecturer at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the University of Texas School of Law, released this report that provides a comprehensive look at Texas's methods for dealing with the state's most serious juvenile offenders.  First, the report breaks down the common myths about which juveniles get transferred to the adult system. They are not the "worst of the worst" but are almost identical to youth who stay in the juvenile system: 29% are first-time offenders; 15% have committed a non-violent offense; and 72% have no prior violent criminal history. Only 17% have committed some form of homicide. Second, the main difference between those juveniles who get transferred to the adult criminal justice system and those who stay in the juvenile system is what county they come from. Harris County, in particular, disproportionately certifies juveniles as adults, whereas Travis and El Paso counties rarely use this option. Third, the vast majority of juveniles transferred to the adult system have never been through the toughest option the juvenile system has to offer, including sentences of up to 40 years. 89% of certified youth have never even been to the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) facilities. Fourth, juveniles who get tried as adults in Texas are held in adult jails while awaiting trial and in adult prison after conviction. These facilities are a really poor fit for youth, and put them at extreme risk for suicide, mental health problems, sexual assault, and physical assault. Many juveniles age 14 - 17 languish in isolation for periods of a year or more. The adult facilities have limited specialized programming for these youth, unlike juvenile system with its effective rehabilitative programming, and in many cases the youth are co-mingled with adult offenders. Research shows that youth held in adult prisons and jails have 100% greater risks of violent recidivism than those held in juvenile facilities.

OIO Special Report on Rising Adult Certification Rates (2009)
The Office of the Independent Ombudsman for the Texas Youth Commission released a new report highlighting the 31% increase in youth being tried as adults. The report shares why the researchers believe the increase has occurred and makes recommendations for solutions to solve the problem. The report shows the consequences of locking up children as adults and reminds the reader of the high rate of recidivism of youth incarcerated as adults, rather than being treated under the guidelines of the juvenile justice system.

Blue Ribbon Task Force Report (2007)
This report by the Blue Ribbon Task Force Report provided findings and recommendations on ways to improve the juvenile justice system in Texas.  The report recommended reforming the certification process, allowing youth to be housed in juvenile facilities instead of adult facilities, and implementing a reverse waiver provision to help youth return to the juvenile system.

 

 

Vermont [return to top]

Juvenile Justice Commission Report (2008)
In 2002, an act of the Vermont General Assembly created the Juvenile Justice Commission to create a comprehensive system for youth under the age of 21 who commit delinquent or criminal acts. This report summaries the findings of the NCJJ Jurisdiction Study.

NCJJ Juvenile Justice Jurisdiction Study (2007)
In Vermont, for youth under 18, the decision of whether to file a delinquency or criminal petition in juvenile or adult court is—with a few statutory guidelines for serious crimes— at the discretion of the State’s Attorney. Over 80% of the petitions filed on 16 and 17 year olds commence in adult court. While there is a waiver process to transfer a case to juvenile court, it is not used frequently. The result is that most of these youth remain in the adult system with adult sentences and records. This report briefly identifies the impact of different statutory or practice options on key systems and agencies.

 

 

Virginia [return to top]

Unlocking the Truth; Real Stories about the Trial and Incarceration of Youth as Adults in Virginia (2010)
In 2010, JustChildren conducted a listening tour across the Commonwealth of Virginia to gather stories about the trial and incarceration of youth as adults. The key findings of this report are that youth tried and incarcerated as adults in Virginia are put at a significant disadvantage upon their return home due to a lack of services and opportunities. Young people throughout the Commonwealth are also not safe when incarcerated with adults. The report also demonstrated that the trial decisions in the Commonwealth are unjust - judicial oversight regarding the transfer of youth into the adult criminal justice system is lacking and prosecutors have virtually unlimited authority over certification decisions resulting in unequal bargaining power and discriminatory outcomes.

Don't Throw Away the Key: Reevaluating Adult Time for Youth Crime in Virginia (2009)
This report by JustChildren examines the impact of the 1996 law changes which reduced the authority of juvenile court judges and allowed the easier transfer of juvenile criminal cases to adult courts. There are several key findings of the report.  First, the law is overly broad and unnecessarily sweeps youth with less serious offenses into the adult criminal justice system. For example, more than 1 in 5 of all youth convicted of felonies in Circuit Court only require and receive a sentence of probation. Second, the law is unbalanced as prosecutors have unprecedented authority, often without meaningful judicial review, over the decision on whether or not to try a youth in the adult criminal justice system. In these instances, they are not required to consider any information beyond the juvenile's age and the charge and must make the decision very early on in the case. As a result, too many youth unnecessarily receive adult felony convictions and are exposed to adult prisoners. Third, the law is unfair as it often lacks impartial, reviewable, and transparent decisions and disproportionately affects African American youth. More than 80% of the youth who are tried as adults are African American, even though only approximately 20% of youth in Virginia are African American. Fourth, the law is counter-productive as trying youth as adults increases, rather than decreases crime. Studies show that youth transferred to adult court were 34% more likely to reoffend than youth remaining in the juvenile justice system. Finally, the majority of professionals working in Virginia's juvenile justice system support changing the current law and giving judges the authority and responsibility to make transfer decisions.

Consequences Report – Virginia Chapter (2007)
In March 2007, the Campaign for Youth Justice released the Consequences Aren’t Minor a study examining the laws and data from seven key states.

 

 

Washington [return to top]

Youth Involvement in the Adult Criminal Justice System in Washington (2009)
The Washington Coalition for the Just Treatment of Youth released a report examining the state's treatment of juveniles in the adult criminal justice system. According to the report, over 1,500 youth were sentenced in adult court between 1999 and 2007. More than one thousand youth were transferred through automatic transfer (known as "auto-declination" in Washington) and over four hundred youth were transferred through judicial waiver (or "discretionary declination"). The two most prevalent crimes for automatic transfer were robbery (40%) and assault (27%). The two most common crimes for judicial waiver were property crimes (40%) and assault (23%). While the majority of youth prosecuted as adults were in their late teens, youth as young as eleven, twelve, and thirteen years old were tried in adult court. In addition, almost 75 % of youth transferred to the adult system received a sentence of less than five years. Many youth received sentences that could be completed before their eighteenth birthdays, suggesting that their transfer to the adult court was unnecessary and that these youth could have received appropriate treatment in the juvenile justice system. Finally, the report found that youth of color are disproportionately impacted by these policies. Although African American youth make up only 5.54% of Washington's juvenile population, they make up nearly 25% of the automatic transfers and over 15% of judicial waivers. Native American youth are also over-represented, making up less than 2% of the state juvenile population, but 3.14% of automatic transfer and 4.6% of judicial waivers. Although overall Asian American youth are underrepresented in transfers, making up 7.33% of the juvenile population but only 5.65% of all transfers.  However, Asian American girls are over-represented, making up 15.22% of all girls who are transferred. The report concludes with a series of recommendations for policymakers.

 

 

Wisconsin [return to top]

Mandatory Sentencing 17 year-olds in Adult Court - Is There a Better Alternative for Wisconsin's Youth and Taxpayers? (2013)

In the United States, there is a wide consensus that children differ from adults. The very fact that each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. have institutions designed to render judgment on cases and administer justice outside of the adult criminal court speaks to this critical distinction. Not-yet-complete cognitive development, social immaturity, and proclivity for risky behavior are elements that lead a substantial percentage of youth to behavior that, while non-serious, may run afoul of the law. Additionally, juveniles are also seen as being more amenable to rehabilitation.

In 1995, Wisconsin passed the Biennial Budget Act (1995 Act 27) and the Juvenile Justice Act (1995 Act 77). Among other provisions, these acts in tandem lowered the general jurisdiction of the juvenile court from 17 to 16, thereby mandating that 17 year-old offenders, once under the authority of the juvenile court, now be adjudicated in the adult criminal court

The State of Juvenile Justice in Wisconsin: What Do We Really Know? (2011)

This report by the Wisconsin on Families and Children explores the state of juvenile justice in Wisconsin. Despite common perception, juvenile crime was in decline. Counties were dramatically reducing the number of incarcerated children in their facilities, moving toward implementing research-driven practices and reinvesting some resources for community based alternatives.

Returning 17-year-olds to the Juvenile Justice System: A Smart Choice for Our Communities and our Youth (2010)

This brief by the Wisconsin Council of Children and Families explains the details of a new measure to return 17-year-olds to the original jurisdiction of the juvenile court and discusses how returning 17-year olds to juvenile court can reduce crime, help ensure youth are held accountable, and provide youth with the skills needed to become productive citizens.

Risking Their Futures: Why Trying Non-violent 17-year-olds as Adults is Bad Policy for Wisconsin (2008)

This report by the Wisconsin Council of Children and Families explores the effects and trends of sending 17-year-olds through the adult system. WCCF looked at 1,000 17-year-olds brought before adult court between September, 2001 and September, 2007 to examine sentencing patterns, recidivism rates, educational opportunities available during incarceration, and racial components to sentencing. More than half of the group was sentenced to jail or prison, even though nearly 80% of trials were only for misdemeanor charges. The most frequent sentence, jail time, was associated with the highest recidivism rate, while the least common sentence, deferred prosecution, correlated with the lowest recidivism rate. Moreover, 70% of these 1000 juveniles sent through adult court were convicted of a new crime during the period studied, equally split between felonies and misdemeanors. This recidivism rate is nearly double that of similar age groups sent through the juvenile system. In addition, racial disparities emerged in the sentencing trends. When compared to Caucasian youth, African-American youth were far more likely to be incarcerated and far less likely to be returned to the community through deferred prosecution, fines, or probation. This trend held true for American Indians and Latinos as well. In the end, the WCCF recommends that 17-year-olds facing prosecution for non-violent crimes be returned to the juvenile justice system so that they may receive rehabilitative, age-appropriate treatment.

Juvenile Justice Commission Endorsement of Raising Age (2008)
The Wisconsin Governor's Juvenile Justice Commission has unanimously endorsed returning 17-year-olds to the juvenile justice system. In their statement regarding age of jurisdiction, the Commission endorsed the following conclusions and recommendations: 1) the Commission supports legislation that would raise the age of general adult criminal jurisdiction to 18; 2) the Commission endorses a balanced approach to juvenile justice; 3) the Commission recommends that this change be contingent on the provision of sufficient fiscal resources to the affected entities.

Commission on Reducing Racial Disparities Report (2008)
The Wisconsin Governor’s Commission on Reducing Racial Disparities released its Final Report which offers recommendations in order to address racial disparities in the juvenile justice system. The report links the overrepresentation of youth of color in adult prisons to current juvenile justice policies. For this reason, the Commission recommends returning 17-year-olds to the original jurisdiction of the juvenile court, while maintaining the current waiver practices that allow transfer of the most serious cases to the adult system.

Legislative Audit Bureau Report on 17-Year-Old Offenders in the Adult Criminal Justice System (2008)
The Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau issued a report analyzing the arrests of 17-year-olds.  Overall, the report findings support changing state policy regarding the treatment of 17-year-old offenders.  Specific findings included: 1) 17-year-olds in the adult system have difficulty accessing services and treatments because they are too old to be eligible for services in the juvenile justice system but are too young for services such as substance abuse treatment and vocational training in the adult corrections system; 2) 17-year-olds in the adult system are more likely to re-offend than youth in the juvenile system or older adults and fewer than one-half of 17-year-old offenders placed on probation completed probation successfully; 3) 17-year-olds in the adult system are most often charged with nonviolent crimes such as crimes against property, truancy, and underage drinking. Crimes against persons accounted for only 5 percent of arrests; and 4) youth of color are significantly overrepresented among 17-year-olds in the adult system, especially in prison.

Rethinking the Juvenile in Juvenile Justice (2006)
This report by the Wisconsin Council of Children and Families links research about adolescent brain development with the treatment of minors in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Major findings of this report include that almost 5,000 17-year-olds were admitted to adult jails in 2004. From 2003 to 2004, almost three hundred youth 17 years old and younger were admitted to adult prison.

Consequences Report – Wisconsin Chapter (2007)
In March 2007, the Campaign for Youth Justice released the Consequences Aren’t Minor a study examining the laws and data from seven key states.

 

 

Wyoming [return to top]

Prosecution of Children as Adults in Wyoming (2010)
The National Center for Youth Law and the Wyoming Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union released this report finding that prosecutors have sole discretion to decide whether a case will be tried in juvenile or adult criminal court in Wyoming. As a result, 85-90% of court-involved youth are processed in the adult system, including those charged with status offenses or other minor crimes. This report criticizes the deficiency in legal representation for youth, as well as gaps in data collection related to adult prosecutions. It also reveals that most youth prosecuted as adults are denied crucial intervention services that promote rehabilitation. Wyoming lags behind other states in effectively addressing youth crime. However, this report maintains that if Wyoming stops relying on adult prosecution and creates effective juvenile justice alternatives, it can save resources while significantly lowering youth recidivism.

Juveniles in Jail Roster (2003)
The Wyoming Statistical Analysis Center newsletter contains detailed information about youth held in jails in the state. According to the data, the average age for the juveniles is 16.1 years old with the youngest juvenile in the system being 12 years old and the oldest being 18 years old. The overwhelming majority of youth (76%) are held in jails for over 24 hours.  However, the most concerning is that only 10% of youth are held for crimes against persons.  In fact, 13% are held in jails for status offenses, and 32% are held in jails for an outstanding bench warrant or a probation violation at 32%.