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What Do Juvenile Offenders Know About Being Tried as Adults? Implications for Deterrence


Richard E. Redding


Chapman University, Office of the Chancellor

October 14, 2010

Juvenile & Family Court Journal, Summer, Vol. 55, No. 3, pp. 35-45, 2004

Abstract:     
An underlying assumption in the nationwide policy shift toward transferring more juveniles to criminal court has been the belief that stricter, adult sentences will act as either a specific or general deterrent to juvenile crime. With respect to general deterrence - whether transfer laws deter would-be offenders from committing crimes - it is important to examine whether juveniles know about transfer laws, whether this knowledge deters criminal behavior, and whether juveniles believe the laws will be enforced against them. The current study is one of the first to examine juveniles' knowledge and perceptions of transfer laws and criminal sanctions. We interviewed 37 juveniles who had been transferred to criminal court in Georgia, obtaining quantitative as well as qualitative data based on structured interviewed questions. Four key findings emerged. First, juveniles were unaware of the transfer law. Second, juveniles felt that awareness of the law may have deterred them from committing the crime or may deter other juveniles from committing crimes, and they suggested practical ways to enhance juveniles' awareness of transfer laws. Third, the juveniles generally felt that it was unfair to try and sentence them as adults. Finally, the consequences of committing their crime were worse than most had imagined, and the harsh consequences of their incarceration in adult facilities may have had a brutalizing effect on some juveniles. The implications for general and specific deterrence are discussed.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 11

Keywords: juveniles, juvenile offenders, criminal law, family and children's law, law and society, experimental and empirical studies

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Date posted: January 19, 2005 ; Last revised: October 15, 2010

Suggested Citation

Redding, Richard E., What Do Juvenile Offenders Know About Being Tried as Adults? Implications for Deterrence (October 14, 2010). Juvenile & Family Court Journal, Summer, Vol. 55, No. 3, pp. 35-45, 2004. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=648621

Contact Information

Richard E. Redding (Contact Author)
Chapman University, Office of the Chancellor ( email )
One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866-1099
United States
714-628-2688 (Phone)
714-628-2564 (Fax)
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