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State Responses to Serious and Violent Juvenile Crime

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 1996
75 pages
The violent criminal behavior of a relatively small proportion of juvenile offenders has created a public perception of rampant violent crime by juveniles and has prompted action by State legislatures and governors to get tough on crime; this report documents the scope of those actions.
The research used a three-pronged strategy for identifying recent State activities that target violent crime by juveniles. It analyzed legislation passed from 1992 through 1995 that addressed serious and violent juvenile offenders; a telephone survey identified substantive and procedural changes and the impact of those changes. The study also reviewed existing data and research that describes recent changes or the impact of those changes. Five common themes emerged from the legislative analysis. In the area of jurisdictional authority, more serious and violent juvenile offenders are being removed from the juvenile justice system in favor of criminal court prosecution. Regarding judicial disposition/sentencing authority, more State legislatures are experimenting with new disposition/sentencing options. In the area of correctional programming, correctional administrators are under pressure to develop programs as a result of new transfer and sentencing laws. With regard to confidentiality of juvenile court records and proceedings, traditional confidentiality provisions are being revised in favor of more open proceedings and records. With respect to victims of juvenile crime, they are being included as "active participants" in the juvenile justice process. This report advises that it is not clear at this point that punishment under current juvenile legislation is more certain, proportionate, longer, or more effective in the adult system for the entire population of juveniles being transferred. The significant policy issues over what to do about serious and violent juvenile offenders must be debated with the best outcome information available. 10 figures and 2 references

Date Published: July 1, 1996