U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Second-Class Justice, First-Class Punishment: The Use of Juvenile Records in Sentencing Adults

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 81 Issue: 5 Dated: March-April 1998 Pages: 206-213
J B Sanborn B,
Date Published
8 pages
This article examines the use of juvenile adjudications in the sentencing of adults.
Although juvenile adjudications often lack basic constitutional protections and are not the equivalent of criminal convictions, most jurisdictions factor them into sentencing of adults. The practice raises both due process and equal protection issues: (1) Juvenile records frequently involve family and social problems, and incorporating them into adult sentencing may result in punishment for the adult resulting not entirely from the current offense or criminal history, but from unfavorable family and socioeconomic status; (2) Juveniles prosecuted for criminal acts have not always been granted constitutional rights equal to those granted an adult; (3) Juvenile adjudications are in a primarily rehabilitative context, and it is unfair to use them in a punitive context; and (4) Using juvenile adjudications allows the adult offender to be regarded as a recidivist, even if he or she is being tried in adult court for the first time. Integrating sentencing between juvenile and criminal courts without a significant accompanying improvement in the justice tendered to juvenile defendants is categorically wrong, unfair and unconstitutional. Notes, tables