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Adult Transfer Law Study

NCJ Number
Erica Turley; J. Norbert Federspiel; Harry N. Boone, Jr. Ph.D.; Lora Maynard-Booton; Angela Saunders
Date Published
March 1999
8 pages
This report presents findings on a study designed to assess the impact of a July 1997 West Virginia law that restricts the ability of juveniles transferred to adult criminal jurisdiction to appeal the order of transfer.
The West Virginia Code allows serious juvenile offenders as young as 14 years old to be transferred to adult criminal jurisdiction. An amendment to the law in 1995 made certain transfers mandatory while allowing judges discretion on other transfers. Another amendment in July 1997 limited the availability of an interlocutory appeal to juveniles transferred by a judge’s discretion. Mandatory transfers no longer have the right to directly appeal the order to transfer. The two-pronged study evaluated the impact of this law on juveniles and on juvenile justice practitioners. The first part of the study drew criminal justice data from 100 randomly selected juveniles who had committed transferable offenses both before and after the 1997 law change. The second part of the study surveyed 142 randomly selected juvenile justice practitioners regarding their opinions of the law. Results offer demographic and offense characteristics of juveniles and demographic characteristics of practitioners. Overall, practitioners were divided in their opinion of the law: more police, sheriffs, and prosecutors were in favor of expanding the number of offenses mandating transfer while more public defenders, probation officers, shelter workers, and judges were in favor of discretionary transfers. Tables, graphs