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Violent Justice: Adult system fails young offenders

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11:09am, April 18, 2007

State laws that send some individuals under age 18 to trial and prison as adults have achieved the opposite of what the policy's proponents intended, a new research review concludes. Transferring young people into adult systems yields substantially higher rates of later serious crimes compared with youths handled by juvenile-justice systems.

Moreover, there's no evidence that shifting some young offenders to the adult-justice system prevents or reduces violence in the general population of children and teenagers.

These findings come from the 14-member Task Force on Community Preventive Services, an independent group funded by federal and private sources. It's reviewing the effectiveness of various efforts to lessen violence committed by and against youths.

The task force reports that young offenders transferred to the adult system are later arrested for violent and other crimes 34 percent more frequently than are their peers sent to juvenile courts and facilities.

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