Excluding Violent Youths from Juvenile Court: The Effectiveness of Legislative Waiver

Excluding Violent Youths from Juvenile Court: The Effectiveness of Legislative Waiver

Excluding Violent Youths from Juvenile Court: The Effectiveness of Legislative Waiver

Excluding Violent Youths from Juvenile Court: The Effectiveness of Legislative Waiver

Excerpt

A certain amount of delinquency has been a traditional mark of adolescence. However, during the past decade, youth violence emerged as a major public concern (Biskup & Cozic, 1992; Howell, 1997; Howell, Krisberg, Hawkins, & Wilson, 1995; Moore & Tonry, 1998; Snyder & Sickmund, 1995). Driving this concern was both the rising level and the lethality of violent acts committed by and against young people. The juvenile violent crime arrest rate surged from the mid1980s until the mid-1990s, increasing 70% from 1987 to 1994 (Sickmund, Snyder, & Poe-Yamagata, 1997, p. 18). In particular, the murder arrest rate of juveniles exhibited dramatic growth by doubling between 1987 and 1993 (Sickmund et al., 1997, p. 20). These increases corresponded with a sizable upswing in violent crime victimization among youths (Snyder & Sickmund, 1995, pp. 23–26), and firearm use appeared to be a key factor in these trends (Blumstein, 1995b; Cook & Laub, 1998; Fagan & Wilkinson, 1998; Greenbaum, 1997).

Despite recent national decreases in juvenile violent crime rates, current levels remain higher than those of the mid-1980s (Sickmund et al., 1997; Snyder, 1997), and youth violence continues to receive a considerable amount of public attention (see, e.g., Masters & Shear, 1998; [More Teens Report,] 1998). News accounts routinely depict seemingly senseless acts of lethal violence, involving gangs, guns, drugs, or all three (see, e.g., Fields & Overberg, 1998; McCoy, Lowe, & Gibbons, 1998). A reader or viewer is often left with the perception that young people are out of control, the juvenile system is ineffective, and something must be done to deal with these violent youthful offenders.

In response to this problem, many changes have been carried out in juvenile justice systems across the country. In contrast to the . . .

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