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Juvenile Waiver as a Mechanism of Social Stratification: a Focus on Human Capital

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 55 Issue: 2 Dated: March 2017 Pages: 405-437
Date Published
March 2017
33 pages
This study used data from the Pathways to Desistance Study, which consisted of a sample of adolescent offenders followed for 7 years post-adjudication, to examine the effect that juvenile waiver to adult criminal court had on human capital acquisition and yield among 557 adolescents from Maricopa County, Arizona.

The historic transformations of the criminal justice system must be justified and interpreted through the effects on criminals (Maruna and Immarigeon, 2011). The push for harsher sentencing policies for juvenile offenders, specifically through the use of juvenile waiver to criminal court, is a policy that is not well understood in terms of its effects on offenders, including broader outcomes beyond recidivism. Using various matching specifications, the findings of the current study demonstrate that juveniles transferred to adult court experience no deleterious effects on human capital in terms of educational acquisition compared with similar youth retained in the juvenile system; however, juveniles processed by adult criminal courts earned considerably less income 7 years post-adjudication, compared to those processed in juvenile court. These results suggest that an important and unintended collateral consequence of juvenile waiver is an increase in social stratification, possibly through labeling and labor market discrimination. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: March 1, 2017