Transfer of Juveniles to Criminal Court

Barry C. Feld and Donna M. Bishop

in The Oxford Handbook of Juvenile Crime and Juvenile Justice

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780195385106
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Transfer of Juveniles to Criminal Court

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  • Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice
  • Courts and Procedure



Transfer of juvenile offenders for adult prosecution provides the nexus between the deterministic, rehabilitative premises of juvenile justice and the free-will, punishment assumptions of criminal justice. This article analyzes the history, implementation, and consequences of changes in transfer laws over the past few decades. It places transfer decisions in a broader sentencing policy context, examining alternative transfer strategies, and reviews evaluations of their implementation. It also explores legislative approaches and the characteristics of youths transferred under each regime. Furthermore, it considers the sentencing policy goals of transfer and assays to what extent transfers of jurisdiction achieve goals of retribution, general deterrence, incapacitation, specific deterrence, or the recognition of youths' diminished criminal responsibility. Finally, the article presents a prescriptive conclusion about appropriate waiver policies for juvenile courts, suggesting a review of judges' waiver decisions by appellate courts and develop general sentencing principles to define a consistent boundary of adulthood.

Keywords: juvenile offenders; adult prosecution; transfer laws; sentencing policy; transfer strategies; waiver decisions

Article.  15883 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice ; Courts and Procedure

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