Trying juveniles as adults and housing them in adult prisons is “counterproductive” – leading to higher and often more violent recidivism rates for those youth than for minors who remain in the juvenile justice system, according to the Task Force on Community Preventive Services.
The report, “Effects on Violence of Laws and Policies Facilitating the Transfer of Juveniles from the Juvenile to the Adult Justice System,” reviewed studies of state laws and policies that gained traction in the 1980s and 1990s, facilitating the transfer of juvenile offenders to the adult criminal justice system. The laws were enacted in response to increases in youth crime.
“Not only does [the practice] not deter youth crime, it actually makes them more violent,” task force member Robert L. Johnson, dean of the New Jersey Medical School, told The Washington Post. “It may salve our desire to punish. But don’t get that confused with rehabilitation. Don’t make the mistake of believing that punishment will help anything.”
The panel of experts was appointed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although the task force published the study in an April 2007 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (see Research of Note, May 2007), the CDC publicly released and distributed the study to the mainstream media for the first time on Nov. 30 – a week before the Senate began to consider the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.
The report is available at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/rr/rr5609.pdf.