The Fallout of Juvenile Waiver: An Analysis of Juvenile Offenders Transferred to the Criminal Justice System

Alexes Harris, University of Washington

The commonly stated goal of juvenile waiver legislation is the criminal court prosecution of violent and chronic juvenile offenders. The aim of criminalization is to guarantee both the protection of the public through minors' incapacitation as well as provide a more severe punitive option unavailable in the juvenile system. Despire the clear expectations of juvenile criminalization there is a dearth of research exploring its efficacy. The goal of this project is to begin to describe the fallout of the waiver process -- what actually happens once juvenile offenders are deemed "unfit" for the juvenile system. The present study explores a 1998 sample of juvenile and crimninal cases in a county inCalifornia (N=763). These court data are supplemented by qualitative observations and interviews with court officials. The research found that over twenty-eight percent of the juvenile cases transferred to criminal court were either declined for further prosecution or were dismissed. Discussion focuses on the possible reasons for the lack of criminal court prosecution and the lack of anticipated punitive sentences.

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Updated 05/20/2006