Article Review On Juvenile Offenders Transferred In Adult Criminal Court Jurisdiction
Although the overall crime rates have continued to decrease in recent decades, the rates of juvenile crime have continued to increase. The public and the media have grown to fear and juvenile crime, and this fear has caused a shift in the approach and policy of treating juvenile offenders. Whereas adult punishment (trial and incarceration) had been reserved for only exceptional cases, for example those with a history of violent crimes, nowadays even juveniles who do not have a history of (violent) crime get transferred to the adult criminal court jurisdiction. The public’s loss of confidence of the juvenile courts has also contributed to the increased transfers. Some states reduced the age bracket that constitutes of “juvenile offenders”, some increased the number and types of crime for which a juvenile could be transferred to the adult jurisdiction, some restricted the number and kind of crimes that one could face as a juvenile, and some scrapped the minimum age altogether. The prevailing opinion or belief has been that transfer of juveniles to the adult criminal court jurisdiction acts as a deterrent to potential juvenile troublemakers and criminals. However, empirical evidence shows that transfer of juveniles to the adult court jurisdiction for sentencing is not a deterrent when the juvenile does not understand the circumstances and reasons why they were transferred.
The study used qualitative research methods based on 12 Ohio prisons. The participants were inmates who had been transferred as juveniles and were currently serving their sentences. Volunteers were chosen based on a maximum variation of age, race, time served, length of sentence, county of residence and the severity of the crimes for which they were convicted. Appropriate and necessary permission and consent were obtained from the respective parties. Personal interviews were conducted with each participant in a setting that assured them of the confidentiality of the interview. Other criteria for selecting participants were that the volunteers acknowledged the crimes for which they were incarcerated and that they could read and understand English at an eight-grade level. The participants were asked questions that showed if they knew they would possibly put under adult sentencing. The finding showed that the participants had no knowledge at all of possible adult sentencing or had no clear understanding. Most simply did not believe the laws applied to them.
The findings show that there is little justification for the severity of the juveniles being sentenced as adults as there is little deterrence value. More should be done to determine the deterrence value of sentencing juveniles as adults. Adolescents and young people should be made aware of the possibility of being sentenced as adults if they commit crimes, perhaps through educational programs.
Miner-Romanof, K. (2012). Juveniles tried and Incarcerated as adults: Findings from a qualitative analysis of their Knowledge, Understanding and Perceptions of their Sentences. Justice Policy Journal , 2-45.