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Contact: Ryan Pinto, ryan.pinto@dshs.wa.gov
January 16, 2014
Study released on juveniles sentenced in adult criminal court system

Study released on juveniles sentenced in adult criminal court system

OLYMPIA — A recently released study on juveniles sentenced in adult criminal court shows they are more likely to commit future crimes than if they had stayed in the juvenile court system. The study found there, "is an increase in recidivism when juveniles are automatically declined from the juvenile court."

In Washington, juvenile courts preside over persons under 18 who allegedly have committed a crime. In certain circumstances, state law requires youth to be "declined jurisdiction" in the juvenile court and the case is then transferred into adult criminal court.

The Washington State Partnership Council on Juvenile Justice (WA-PCJJ) initiated a research project with the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) to evaluate the effectiveness of state law that "declines" youth from the juvenile court and transfers their case into adult criminal court. The WSIPP Board of Directors approved the project, and the final report was recently completed in December 2013. 

For the report, "The Effectiveness of Declining Juvenile Court Jurisdiction of Youth," WSIPP examined whether the automatic decline law resulted in higher or lower offender recidivism for those who were sentenced as adults. It compared recidivism rates of youth who were automatically declined after the law was approved in 1994 with youth who would have been automatically transferred into the adult system had the law existed prior to that time.  "We employed numerous tests, all of which demonstrate that recidivism is higher for youth who are automatically declined jurisdiction in the juvenile court." Elizabeth Drake, Senior Research Associate, WSIPP, was the principal researcher on the project. 

The findings are consistent with rigorous evaluations conducted nationally by other researchers, which are also found in the report.

LINK TO REPORT (Council’s website): http://www.dshs.wa.gov/pdf/ojj/WsippJuvenileDeclineDecFinal.pdf

LINK TO REPORT (WSIPP’s website): http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/Reports/528



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