Juvenile Justice:

Juveniles Processed In Criminal Court and Case Dispositions

GGD-95-170: Published: Aug 15, 1995. Publicly Released: Aug 15, 1995.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the frequency with which juveniles have been sent to criminal court, focusing on: (1) juvenile conviction rates and sentences in criminal court; (2) dispositions of juvenile cases in juvenile court; and (3) conditions of confinement for juveniles incarcerated in adult correctional facilities.

GAO found that: (1) less than 2 percent of the juvenile delinquency cases filed in juvenile court from 1988 through 1992 were transferred to criminal court; (2) in states that permitted prosecutor direct filing, between 1 and 13 percent of the juvenile cases were referred directly to criminal court; (3) state laws that excluded certain juveniles from juvenile court jurisdiction mainly focused on violent offenses or juveniles with previous court records; (4) new state laws have generally increased the frequency in which juveniles are sent to criminal court by either decreasing the age or increasing the types of offenses for which juveniles may be sent to criminal court; (5) juveniles in six of the seven states studied tended to be convicted when prosecuted in criminal court, most often for property offenses; (6) between 3 to 50 percent of the juveniles convicted of serious violent offenses received probation; (7) in four of the seven states, juvenile incarceration rates for violent, property, and drug offenses were between 62 and 100 percent; (8) in the 744,000 formal delinquency cases filed in 1992, 43 percent of the juveniles received probation, 27 percent of the cases were dismissed, 17 percent of the juveniles were placed in residential treatment, 12 percent received other disposition, and 1 percent were transferred to criminal court; and (9) in three of the states studied, the juveniles sentenced to adult prisons were housed in separate prisons, but health, recreation, and educational services were equivalent in all seven states' facilities.

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