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Automatic Transfer Law: An Effective Policy?

1388 words - 6 pages

Researchers conducted a national study of how the juvenile court judge weighs the pertinent Kent criteria. This criterion is based on the potential risk to the community, the maturity of character and amenability to intervention. The purpose of this study is three fold, first to test the juvenile court judges' beliefs regarding the mechanics of how juveniles are transferred, second to examine the judges' beliefs about the usefulness of data presented of them and third determined how juvenile judges' weigh pertinent psychological concepts linked to transfer cases when making a decision. There were four hypothesis based on previous research and theory, one would be juvenile judges' prefer case ...view middle of the document...

For this juvenile, his level of dangerousness and sophistication-maturity were low but his amenability to treatment level was high. The judges were given a scale of one to five for how useful the Kent concepts when determining whether to transfer a juvenile to adult court. This procedure was based on random assignment; all members of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court judges were sent one of eight versions of the survey and a letter explaining the purpose of the study. The Judges were asked to lend their expertise to help present researchers understand the transfer process better and what to consider when making such a decision.
The results of this study were that out of the 361 surveys there were similar response patterns. Geographically, the results were evenly spread across the nation, however the surveys did not provide the ultimate decision of whether judges would transfer the particular cases used in this study. Based on the data results, most judges believes that the prosecutorial direct file should be left as the last resort for offender and pinpointed things such as mental illness as a reason to retain youths in the juvenile system. These results showed the differences in the use of discretion from a judge’s point of view. For the most part, judges leaned towards keeping youth offenders in the juvenile justice system.
A third study was conducted on juvenile offending; however this study focused on the perspective of the effectiveness of the “get-tough” attitude on juvenile crime. Researchers wanted to reexamine this concept and find out if using it as a way to waive juveniles to adult court resulted in harsher punishments and if there is a difference between the two court systems. This study included 345 youths who were waived to the adult court system in Pennsylvania. Examined were the certainty, swiftness and severity of punishment for youths transferred to adult court compared to those in the juvenile system to find out the effectiveness of the juvenile legislative waiver.
This study concentrated on youths who had preliminary hearings in three Pennsylvania cities (Philadelphia, Allegheny and Dauphin) between March 1996 and December 1996. These youths met the Act 33criteria for juvenile exclusion, which are a set of guidelines that removed youth offenders from the juvenile court jurisdiction. Out of the sample of 354 youths, 144 were decertified to juvenile court and 201 were not. Random Assignment was not used possible for this study because the two groups are likely to differ in regards of other factors than the type of court system they will be placed in. The key variables in this study were conviction, target, incarceration, type of sentence and the case processing time. Other factors that may differ amongst offenders include type of attorney, race, offense severity and the type of weapon used in the crime.
The results showed that there is no significant difference in the likelihood of conviction between youth...

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