Waiving Juveniles to Criminal Court: Court Officials Express Their Thoughts
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, state and federal jurisdictions modified their statutes to make it easier to send juvenile offenders to adult court. Yet, waivers continue to be poorly understood. The primary objective of this study is to document the views of those responsible for making transfer decisions in Wisconsin. Though a primary aim is to gain insight into the utility and ramifications of waiver decisions, vis-à-vis the views of court officials, the ultimate goal is to obtain a better understanding of the complexity of the waiver process and to gain information that will guide us in making necessary policy modifications that will reduce negative consequences for juvenile offenders, the legal system, and society, while increasing safety for the public. Even though most participants reported that the benefits outweigh the consequences of waiving juveniles to adult court, it is difficult to make a strong argument in favor of waivers when the situation is analyzed in its totality. Likewise, even though court officials claimed that there is utility in juvenile waivers, key legislative expectations such as harsher sanctions in adult court, lower recidivism rates, and lower crime rates are not obvious.
waivers, benefits, consequences, sentencing, deterrence, recidivism, reform
Citation: Social Justice Vol. 36, No. 1 (2009): 122-139