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Adolescent transfer, developmental maturity, and adjudicative competence: an ethical and justice policy inquiry.

Sellers, Brian G.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2009) The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. 99(2):435-487.

Based on the empirical evidence, automatic adolescent transfer to adult criminal court poses significant processing, treatment, and recidivism problems for youths, especially when issues of developmental maturity and trial fitness are brought to the fore. These concerns notwithstanding, legal tribunals increasingly rely on mandated waivers (both legislative and prosecutorial) as a basis to further judicial decision-making whose aim is punishment for serious juvenile offending and the protection of society from such future criminality. This qualitative study examines the prevailing state supreme court and appellate court opinions on this matter. By engaging in textual analysis, both the jurisprudential intent that informs these opinions and the ethical reasoning by which this intent is communicated are subjected to legal exegeses. Mindful of how existing strategies such as commonsense justice, therapeutic jurisprudence, and restorative justice represent types of psychological jurisprudence consistent with the philosophy of virtue ethics, this Article tentatively and provisionally delineates several policy recommendations for rethinking judicial decisionmaking on the issue of automatic adolescent transfer. (excerpt)


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