Young Offenders and an Effective Justice System Response

James C. Howell, Barry C. Feld and Daniel P. Mears

in From Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Crime

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199828166
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199951208 | DOI:
Young Offenders and an Effective Justice System Response

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This chapter addresses what happens with older adolescents who transition into the criminal justice system, what should happen, and what we need to know. It emphasizes that neither the juvenile nor criminal justice system handles this offender group well. Studies have not found the wide diversity of measures in use to be effective, and little research has accompanied them. The States are left with dysfunctional—and sometimes contradictory—policies and practices. Key questions are addressed: Are vulnerable youth competent enough to understand judicial and court proceedings that affect their future? Are there assessments in place in the court to ascertain their competency? Are such assessments routine and do they have an impact on court proceedings? This chapter advocates a forward-looking administrative model in both the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems that bases program placements and supervision levels upon objective risk and needs assessments, competency assessments, and supports individualized case management plans focused on improving future behavior rather than punishing past behavior. In addition, the systematic adoption of research-based policies is needed, and a major investment in evaluation of the experimental policies and practices is necessary to determine to what extent they work.

Keywords: juvenile; delinquency; adjudication; offenders; transfer; waiver; trial; adjudicative; culpability; competence

Chapter.  19988 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Theory

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