Who Gets a Second Chance? An Investigation of Ohio's Blended Juvenile Sentence
38 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2008 Last revised: 12 Sep 2008
Date Written: May 15, 2008
During the early 1990s, many state legislatures made sweeping changes in the dispositional and sentencing options available to juvenile courts, including the introduction of a new juvenile sentencing innovation, blended sentencing. Blended sentencing emerged during a period of steadily increasing violent juvenile crime as a compromise between those who wanted to emphasize public safety, punishment, and accountability of juvenile offenders and those who wanted to maintain or strengthen the traditional juvenile justice system. The purpose of the present paper is to examine the practice of blended sentencing in Ohio. Our objective is to identify the factors that influence the probability that juvenile offenders will be processed as conventional juvenile or as blended sentencing cases (referred to as a Serious Youthful Offender or SYO in Ohio) or transferred to the adult criminal justice system. Using data from over 600 juvenile cases in Ohio, we propose a multinomial regression model to predict factors associated with the various dispositional case processing options. From these data we found, that, all other things being equal, non-white juvenile offenders were significantly less likely than white offenders to be SYOs as opposed to being transferred. While some policy makers advocate that blended sentencing options as are currently in use be discontinued, we suggest that the most promising option to rationalize the use of blended sentencing and to avoid disparities in its use is to incorporate the principal of risk in its application.
Keywords: Juvenile Justice
JEL Classification: K14, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation