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Juveniles Facing Criminal Sanctions: Three States That Changed the Rules

NCJ Number
Date Published
Torbet, P., Griffin, P., Hurst, Jr., H., MacKenzie, L. R.
This report examines the use of adult criminal sanctions for juveniles in Minnesota, New Mexico, and Wisconsin and summarizes the lessons learned from these case studies and from the authors’ analysis of State legislative activity.
The research took place in the fall of 1998. It focused on these States both because they embarked on significant but distinctive experiments and because their approaches are in some sense representative of broader national trends. Wisconsin categorically excluded all 17-year-olds from juvenile court jurisdiction. New Mexico and Minnesota expanded the sentencing authority of juvenile court judges. Results of the case studies revealed that a disconnect exists between the legislative intent and the actual implementation of the new laws. In addition, blended sentencing laws encourage plea bargaining, blended sentencing provisions expand judicial and prosecutorial discretion, and the local application of the new sentencing laws varies widely. Moreover, the new sentencing laws have a disproportionate impact on minorities. Furthermore, expanded sentencing laws require new resources and interventions, wholesale age exclusions have unanticipated consequences, and the in-between status of juveniles creates problems for adult criminal corrections agencies. Finally, determining the impact of reforms will require more data collection and systematic follow-up. Figures and 38 references
Date Created: August 14, 2014