Developmental and Life Course Criminology in Discretionary Judicial Waivers

Abstract

The current research, using qualitative methodology and grounded theory analysis for model building, examines if and how juvenile court judges draw from developmental and life course criminology (DLC) in discretionary judicial waivers. This study develops three progressive models, emerging from interviews with juvenile court judges from two large Southern states (N = 30), that demonstrate how principles related to the three developmental stages of offending (activation, escalation, and desistance) from DLC theories shape judges’ considerations of each of the three Kent factors (dangerousness, treatment amenability, sophistication-maturity) used to weigh juvenile transfer via discretionary judicial waivers. This work suggests that judges think about juvenile transfer cautiously and as a strategy that should only affect individual juveniles identified by judges as “persisters” and that drawing from DLC principles appears to foster a generally rehabilitative jurisprudential philosophy for judges in the juvenile court system.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  1. Belotto, M. J. (2018). Data analysis methods for qualitative research: managing the challenges of coding, interrater reliability, and thematic analysis. The Qualitative Report, 23(11), 2622–2633.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Benekos, P. J., & Merlo, A. V. (2008). Juvenile justice: the legacy of punitive policy. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 6(1), 28–46.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Benson, M. (2012). Crime and the life course. New York, NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Berryessa, C. M. (2014). Judiciary views on criminal behaviour and intention of offenders with high-functioning autism. Journal of intellectual disabilities and offending behaviour, 5(2), 97–106.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Berryessa, C. M. (2016). Brief report: judicial attitudes regarding the sentencing of offenders with high functioning autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(8), 2770–2773.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Berryessa, C. M. (2018). Potential Impact of Research on Adolescent Development on Juvenile Judge Decision-making. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 69(3), 19–38.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Berryessa, C. M. (2019). Judicial stereotyping associated with genetic essentialist biases toward mental disorders and potential negative effects on sentencing. Law & Society Review, 53(1), 202–238.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Berryessa, C. M., & Reeves, J. (2020). The perceptions of juvenile judges regarding adolescent development in evaluating juvenile competency. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 110(3), 551.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Bishop, D. M. (2009). Juvenile transfer in the United States. In Reforming juvenile justice (pp. 85–104). New York, NY: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Bishop, D. M., & Frazier, C. E. (1996). Race effects in juvenile justice decision-making: findings of a statewide analysis. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 86(2), 392–414.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Brannen, D. N., Salekin, R. T., Zapf, P. A., Salekin, K. L., Kubak, F. A., & DeCoster, J. (2006). Transfer to adult court: a national study of how juvenile court judges weigh pertinent Kent criteria. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 12(3), 332–355.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Cauffman, E., Fine, A., Mahler, A., & Simmons, C. (2018). How developmental science influences juvenile justice reform. UC Irvine Law Review, 8(1), 102–120.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Cauffman, E., & Steinberg, L. (2012). Emerging findings from research on adolescent development and juvenile justice. Victims & Offenders, 7(4), 428–449.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Cohen, M. A., Piquero, A. R., & Jennings, W. G. (2010). Studying the costs of crime across offender trajectories. Criminology & Public Policy, 9(2), 279–305.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. DeLisi, M., & Piquero, A. R. (2011). New frontiers in criminal careers research, 2000–2011: a state-of-the-art review. Journal of Criminal Justice, 39(4), 289–301.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Dobbin, S. A., Gatowski, S. I., Ginsburg, G. P., Merlino, M. L., Dahir, V., & Richardson, J. T. (2001). Surveying difficult populations: lessons learned from a national survey of state trial court judges. Justice System Journal, 22(3), 287–314.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Emerson, R. M. (2017). Judging delinquents. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Emmel, N. (2013). Sampling and choosing cases in qualitative research: a realist approach. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Ewing, C. P. (1990). When children kill: the dynamics of juvenile homicide. Lexington, KY: Lexington Books.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Fagan, J., & Deschenes, E. P. (1990). Determinants of judicial waiver decisions for violent juvenile offenders. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 81, 314–347.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Farrington, D. P. (2003). Developmental and life-course criminology: key theoretical and empirical issues-the 2002 Sutherland Award address. Criminology, 41(2), 221–225.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Farrington, D. P. (Ed.). (2017). Integrated developmental and life-course theories of offending. New York, NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Farrington, D. P., Ohlin, L. E., & Wilson, J. Q. (2012). Understanding and controlling crime: toward a new research strategy. Chicago, IL: Springer Science & Business Media.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Feld, B. C. (1993). Criminalizing the American juvenile court. Crime and Justice, 17, 197–280.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Feld, B. C. (1999). Bad kids: race and the transformation of the juvenile court. New York, NY: Oxford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Furdella, J., & Puzzanchera, C. (2015). Delinquency cases in juvenile court, 2013. US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Gardner, M., & Steinberg, L. (2005). Peer influence on risk taking, risk preference, and risky decision making in adolescence and adulthood: an experimental study. Developmental Psychology, 41(4), 625–635.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Goulding, C. (2017). Navigating the complexities of grounded theory research in advertising. Journal of Advertising, 46(1), 61–70.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Griffin, P., Addie, S., Adams, B., & Firestine, K. (2011). Trying juveniles as adults: an analysis of state transfer laws and reporting. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Griffin, G., Germain, E. J., & Wilkerson, R. G. (2012). Using a trauma-informed approach in juvenile justice institutions. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 5(3), 271–283.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Hecker, T., & Steinberg, L. (2002). Psychological evaluation at juvenile court disposition. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 33(3), 300–306.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Howell, J. C. (2003). Diffusing research into practice using the comprehensive strategy for serious, violent, and chronic juvenile offenders. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 1(3), 219–245.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Kupchik, A. (2006). The decision to incarcerate in juvenile and criminal courts. Criminal Justice Review, 31(4), 309–336.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Kurlychek, M. C., & Johnson, B. D. (2010). Juvenility and punishment: sentencing juveniles in adult criminal court. Criminology, 48(3), 725–758.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Laub, J. H. (2004). The life course of criminology in the United States: the American Society of Criminology 2003 presidential address. Criminology, 42(1), 1–26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Laub, J. H., & Sampson, R. J. (2001). Understanding desistance from crime. Crime and Justice, 28, 1–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Loeber, R., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (1998). Development of juvenile aggression and violence: some common misconceptions and controversies. American Psychologist, 53(2), 242–259.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Mason, M. (2010). Sample size and saturation in PhD studies using qualitative interviews. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 11(3), 1–19.

    Google Scholar 

  39. McCarthy, B. R., & Smith, B. L. (1986). The conceptualization of discrimination in the juvenile justice process: the impact of administrative factors and screening decisions on juvenile court dispositions. Criminology, 24(1), 41–64.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Mears, D. P. (2003). A critique of waiver research: critical next steps in assessing the impacts of laws for transferring juveniles to the criminal justice system. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 1(2), 156–172.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Mears, D. P., Kuch, J. J., Lindsey, A. M., Siennick, S. E., Pesta, G. B., Greenwald, M. A., & Blomberg, T. G. (2016). Juvenile court and contemporary diversion: helpful, harmful, or both? Criminology & Public Policy, 15(3), 953–981.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Moffitt, T. E. (1993). Life-course-persistent and adolescence-limited antisocial behavior: a developmental taxonomy. Psychological Review, 100(4), 674–701.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Mulvey, E. P., Steinberg, L., Fagan, J., Cauffman, E., Piquero, A. R., Chassin, L., Knight, G. P., Brame, R., Schubert, C. A., Hecker, T., & Losoya, S. H. (2004). Theory and research on desistance from antisocial activity among serious adolescent offenders. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 2(3), 213–236.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Myers, D. L. (2016). Juvenile transfer to adult court: ongoing search for scientific support. Criminology & Public Policy, 15(3), 927–938.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. NeMoyer, A. (2017). Kent revisited: aligning judicial waiver criteria with more than fifty years of social science research. Vermont Law Review, 42, 441–524.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Patton, M. Q. (2014). Qualitative research & evaluation methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Paulsen, M. G. (1966). Kent v. United States: the constitutional context of juvenile cases. The Supreme Court Review, 1966, 167–192.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Pfaff, J. (2017). Locked in: the true causes of mass incarceration-and how to achieve real reform. New York, NY: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Piquero, A. R., Farrington, D. P., & Blumstein, A. (2003). The criminal career paradigm. Crime and Justice, 30, 359–506.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Redding, R. E. (2008, August). Juvenile transfer laws: an effective deterrent to delinquency? Juvenile Justice Bulletin, 1–10.

  51. Ravitch, S. M., & Riggan, M. (2016). Reason & rigor: How conceptual frameworks guide research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Rudman, C., Hartstone, E., Fagan, J., & Moore, M. (1986). Violent youth in adult court: process and punishment. Crime & Delinquency, 32(1), 75–96.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Salekin, R. T., MacDougall, E. A., & Harrison, N. A. (2016). Developmental maturity and sophistication-maturity: learning more about its purpose and assessment. In APA handbook of psychology and juvenile justice (pp. 405–424). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Salekin, R. T., Rogers, R., & Ustad, K. L. (2001). Juvenile waiver to adult criminal courts: prototypes for dangerousness, sophistication–maturity, and amenability to treatment. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 7(2), 381–401.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Salekin, R. T., Yff, R., Neumann, C. S., Leistico, A. M. R., & Zalot, A. A. (2002). Juvenile transfer to adult courts: a look at the prototypes for dangerousness sophistication-maturity and amenability to treatment through a legal lens. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 8(4), 373–410.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Sampson, R. J., & Laub, J. H. (2003). Life-course desisters? Trajectories of crime among delinquent boys followed to age 70. Criminology, 41(3), 555–592.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Sampson, R. J., & Laub, J. H. (2005). A life-course view of the development of crime. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 602(1), 12–45.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Scott, E. S., & Steinberg, L. (2008). Adolescent development and the regulation of youth crime. The Future of Children, 18(2), 15–33.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Singer, S. I. (1996). Merging and emerging systems of juvenile and criminal justice. Law & Policy, 18(1–2), 1–15.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Steiner, B., & Wright, E. (2006). Assessing the relative effects of state direct file waiver laws on violent juvenile crime: deterrence or irrelevance? The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 96(4), 1451–1478.

    Google Scholar 

  61. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Tanenhaus, D. S. (2004). Juvenile justice in the making. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  63. Thornberry, T. (1997). Developmental theories of crime and delinquency. New York, NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Vincent, G. M., Perrault, R. T., Guy, L. S., & Gershenson, B. G. (2012). Developmental issues in risk assessment: implications for juvenile justice. Victims & Offenders, 7(4), 364–384.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. von Eye, A., & Bergman, L. R. (2003). Research strategies in developmental psychopathology: dimensional identity and the person-oriented approach. Development and Psychopathology, 15(3), 553–580.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Zane, S. N., Welsh, B. C., & Zimmerman, G. M. (2017). Examining the historical developments and contemporary relevance of the longitudinal–experimental design of the Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study: utility for research on intergenerational transmission of offending. Adolescent research review, 2(2), 99–111.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Zimring, F. E. (2010). The power politics of juvenile court transfer: a mildly revisionist history of the 1990s. Louisiana Law Review, 71(1), 1–15.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The author would like to thank Brianna Pedro-Santiago for her research assistance in this project.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Colleen M. Berryessa.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Berryessa, C.M. Developmental and Life Course Criminology in Discretionary Judicial Waivers. J Dev Life Course Criminology (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40865-021-00158-8

Download citation

Keywords

  • Developmental criminology
  • Judges
  • Discretion
  • Juvenile transfer
  • Life course