A separate juvenile justice system was established in the United States in 1899 with a goal of diverting juvenile offenders from the harsh punishments of the adult criminal court, and encouraging rehabilitation based on the individual needs of the offender. This new juvenile court was set up as a civil or chancery court with informal proceedings and discretion left to the juvenile court judge. Furthermore, juvenile court proceedings were closed to the public and juvenile records were to remain confidential.
However, as the decades progressed juveniles became increasingly involved in more serious crimes. This generated a growing fear among lawmakers, educators, and the public which resulted in a number of “get tough” policies and strategies. By the 1990s the most popular approach in dealing with violent juvenile crime was for states to make it easier or to require the prosecution of juveniles as adults in criminal court.
Research demonstrates that such policies may be counter-productive, increase rather than decrease recidivism, and cause harm to offenders, their families, and the community. This volume provides a comprehensive historical review of knowledge surrounding the transfer of American’s youth from the rehabilitative, individualized treatment of the juvenile justice system to the adult criminal justice system.
Sheri Jenkins Keenan is coordinator of The Center for Community Criminology & Research and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice at The University of Memphis.
Chapter 1: History by Sheri Jenkins Keenan
Chapter 2: Juvenile Transfer: Law and Policy by Lisa S. Nored
Chapter 3: Exceptions to the Once Waived, Always Waived Practice/Policy by Sheri Jenkins Keenan
Chapter 4: Once an Adult, Always an Adult by Raine Bolin
Chapter 5: Waiver in Use by Sheri Jenkins Keenan
Chapter 6: Effects of Waivers by Peter S. Lehmann and Addison Kobie
Conclusion: The Future of Juvenile Transfers by Sheri Jenkins Keenan