|Despite a recent proliferation of laws transferring adolescents
from juvenile court to criminal court, no research has examined whether
these transfer policies subject adolescents to a more 'formally rational'
sentencing process than in juvenile courts. In response, this paper
assesses whether adolescents prosecuted as adults are subjected to different
sentencing criteria and outcomes than are adolescents prosecuted in juvenile
courts. It does so using comparable samples of cases, matched by age and
offense, from two adjacent jurisdictions with different thresholds for
criminal court eligibility. The results indicate that a criminal court
tariff exists, whereby criminal court actors are more likely than juvenile
court actors to sentence convicted defendants to incarceration. The
possibility is considered that relative to one another, juvenile courts
operate via substantive legal rationality and criminal courts via formal
legal rationality; contrary to this theoretical contrast, the results
indicate that similar factors predict sentencing in both types of courts.
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