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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3527

Title: Risk, treatment amenability, and the nature of weapon: influences on juvenile judges’ transfer decisions
Authors: Lyons, Sarita T.
Keywords: Clinical psychology;Juvenile justice, Administration of;Judicial process
Issue Date: 11-Jul-2011
Abstract: Judicial transfers are a longstanding, integral aspect of the juvenile justice system. There are several factors set forth in Kent v. United States (1966) that judges should consider when making a decision to transfer a juvenile to criminal court. Little research has investigated what influences have the greatest influence on judicial transfer decision. This study, however empirically examined, whether juvenile court judges report hypothetical, vignette-based transfer decisions influenced by reoffense risk and treatment amenability (two Kent factors) and type of weapon allegedly used in the offense (a non-Kent influence). This survey vignette used a 2 x 2 x 2 between subjects design. Currently, there are only 14 states that use judicial discretion as the sole means of transferring a juvenile to adult court. However, for this study, judges were surveyed from all 50 states to evaluate what factor(s) most influence their transfer decisions, despite the current transfer mechanism(s) in place in their state. The survey design systematically manipulated Violence Risk (high/low), Treatment Amenability (high/low), and (c) Nature of Weapon (gun/knife). It was hypothesized that there would be a significant difference in the likelihood that a responding judge would transfer a juvenile to adult court if (a) that juvenile is at high risk for future offending, (b) has treatment needs and amenability that are not appropriate for the juvenile justice system, and (c) was allegedly in possession of or used a gun in the commission of a crime. The researchers asked judges (N=305) from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to examine one of eight hypothetical vignettes. Results showed that risk and weapon type had a significant influence on the judge’s likelihood to transfer the juvenile, whereas amenability to treatment did not. Additionally, results showed a significant interaction for risk and amenability. Policy implications for this important area of law and psychology are fourfold: (a) The underuse of forensic evaluations in transfer decisions, (b) the apparent insignificant value placed on amenability to treatment and transfer decisions, (c) the importance of creating national standards for transfer decisions, (d) the need for improvements in delinquency prevention and weapon reduction interventions.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3527
Appears in Collections:Drexel Theses and Dissertations

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