Young Offenders and an Effective Justice System Response

James C. Howell, Barry C. Feld, Daniel P. Mears

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

11 Scopus citations


This chapter addresses what happens with older adolescents who transition into the criminal justice system, what should happen, and what we need to know. It emphasizes that neither the juvenile nor criminal justice system handles this offender group well. Studies have not found the wide diversity of measures in use to be effective, and little research has accompanied them. The States are left with dysfunctional-and sometimes contradictory -policies and practices. Key questions are addressed: Are vulnerable youth competent enough to understand judicial and court proceedings that affect their future? Are there assessments in place in the court to ascertain their competency? Are such assessments routine and do they have an impact on court proceedings? This chapter advocates a forward-looking administrative model in both the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems that bases program placements and supervision levels upon objective risk and needs assessments, competency assessments, and supports individualized case management plans focused on improving future behavior rather than punishing past behavior. In addition, the systematic adoption of researchbased policies is needed, and a major investment in evaluation of the experimental policies and practices is necessary to determine to what extent they work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFrom Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Crime
Subtitle of host publicationCriminal Careers, Justice Policy and Prevention
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199951208
ISBN (Print)9780199828166
StatePublished - Sep 20 2012


  • Adjudication
  • Adjudicative
  • Competence
  • Culpability
  • Delinquency
  • Juvenile
  • Offenders
  • Transfer
  • Trial
  • Waiver


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