|Health Factors:||Community Safety|
|Decision Makers:||Local Government State Government Federal Government|
|Population Reach:||<1% of WI's population|
|Impact on Disparities:|
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Youth transfer provisions allow arrested youth to be placed under the jurisdiction of the adult criminal justice system rather than the juvenile justice system. Such transfers may occur at the discretion of a juvenile court judge or prosecutor, be mandated for certain crimes or age groups, or occur via blended sentencing laws that combine a juvenile sentence with a suspended adult sentence. The legal mechanisms that support transfers vary by state (CFYJ-Arya 2011).
There is strong evidence that transferring youth who commit serious offenses to the adult criminal system increases the likelihood that these youth will re-offend (CG-Violence, OJJDP-Redding 2010). Youth incarcerated in the adult justice system also appear to be at greater risk of physical and sexual abuse than youth in the juvenile justice system (OJJDP-Mulvey 2012).
Youth who are charged with property crime or a serious first offense have higher rates of rearrest when they are transferred to adult criminal court than non-transferred youth (OJJDP-Mulvey 2012). Experts suggest that youth transfer may contribute to higher recidivism through stigmatization and labeling effects, lack of rehabilitation services during incarceration with adult offenders, and criminal behaviors learned from adult offenders (OJJDP-Redding 2010).
Prosecuting juvenile offenders in adult court may increase waiting time before adjudication and increase the likelihood of receiving more severe sentences than prosecution in the juvenile justice system (OJJDP-Washburn 2015, Steiner 2006). Additional evidence is needed to determine the effects of laws supporting prosecution of juveniles through the adult system on juvenile crime prevention overall (Steiner 2006, Steiner 2006a, OJJDP-Mulvey 2012, OJJDP-Redding 2010).
As of 2011, most states have provisions to transfer youth to adult court; 45 states have judicial waiver provisions, 15 have prosecutorial discretion provisions, and 29 have statutory exclusion provisions to transfer (NCJJ-Sickmund 2014). In 2014, about 4,200 adolescents younger than age 18 were estimated to be held in US jails (OJJDP-Juvenile statistics).
Some states have enacted reforms that prohibit or limit youth transfer to adult court. In 2015, for example, Illinois enacted a law prohibiting automatic transfer for youth under age 18 and New Jersey increased the minimum age for transfer from 14 to 15 and limited transfer to the most serious and violent crimes (CFYJ-Bookout 2015). Many national organizations oppose youth transfer, for example, the Campaign for Youth & Justice (CFYJ) and the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN).
As of May 2016, Wisconsin juvenile court can wave juvenile court jurisdiction and transfer youth aged 14 or older to adult criminal court (WI Statute 938.18). Once prosecuted as an adult, youth are automatically transferred to the adult justice system for any subsequent offense (WI Statute 938.183).
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