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Certifying Juveniles for Adult Court: An Attribution Analysis

NCJ Number
Journal of Applied Social Psychology Volume: 17 Issue: 10 Dated: (October 1987) Pages: 896-910
J A Webb; E P Willems
Date Published
15 pages
Certification is the process whereby older juveniles who have committed felony offenses are transferred from juvenile courts to adult courts. The present study examined the variables that influence decisions in these cases and used attribution theory to conceptualize the process.
Data were obtained from files of 150 youths on whom certification petitions had been filed from January 1981 to October 1984. Of these, 125 had been certified and 25 had not. The sample comprised 148 males and 2 females. Data included seriousness of the offense, previous offenses, potential for aggressiveness, level of involvement in the offense, age, court in which the case was heard, year in which the case was heard, IQ, family income, and sex. Level of involvement, seriousness of the offense, and potential for aggressiveness had the strongest association with certification outcomes, with those high on these measures significantly more likely to be certified. The cluster that predicted outcomes best included level of involvement, seriousness of the offense, potential for aggressiveness, IQ, year in which the case was heard, court in which the case was heard, sex and previous offenses. The most explicitly behavioral variable -- how actively the child participated in the offense -- was the best single predictor of outcomes. 2 tables and 20 references. (Author abstract modified)


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