Treating juveniles as adult criminals: an iatrogenic violence prevention strategy if ever there was one.

  • Michael Tonry
  • Published 2007 in American journal of preventive medicine


i c e d a m p p d he Task Force on Community Preventive Services presents recommendations in this supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Mediine relating to the transfer of juveniles to the adult riminal justice system.1,2 The questions the Task Force onsidered are whether transfers reduce or prevent iolent crimes by people younger than 18 by means ither of individual deterrence (reducing future vioence by the individuals transferred) or general deterence (reducing juvenile violence generally). The Task orce concludes that transfer has iatrogenic effects for ndividuals transferred: their levels of future violence ncrease relative to those of comparable young offendrs not transferred, and that insufficient evidence exists n which to reach conclusions about general deterence. Overall, transferred juveniles were 33.7% more ikely to be re-arrested for a violent or other crime. The ommission recommended “against policies facilitating he transfer of juveniles from juvenile to adult courts or the purpose of reducing violence.” The Task Force’s findings are illustrative of a more eneral pattern of findings concerning undesirable and nwanted consequences of harsh juvenile and criminal ustice policies adopted in the United States between 975 and 2000. In the 1970s and earlier, most informed bservers would have predicted what the Task Force ound: transferring juveniles to adult courts does harm o them, which diminishes their life chances, thereby ncreasing their likelihood of committing crimes in the uture. That is why the Joint Commission on Juvenile ustice Standards of the American Bar Association and he Institute for Judicial Administration3 generally oposed transfer and recommended the creation of trong legal presumptions against its use. Before 1980, the notions were widely shared that uveniles are qualitatively different from adults— motionally and intellectually immature, less responible, more malleable—and accordingly that their rimes should be handled differently. The juvenile ustice system was seen as a mechanism for responding esponsibly but constructively to serious juvenile mis-

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@article{Tonry2007TreatingJA, title={Treating juveniles as adult criminals: an iatrogenic violence prevention strategy if ever there was one.}, author={Michael Tonry}, journal={American journal of preventive medicine}, year={2007}, volume={32 4 Suppl}, pages={S3-4} }