From 1992 through 1995, 41 States passed laws making it easier for juveniles to be tried as adults
Changes to statutory exclusions were the most common type of jurisdictional change
Of the States that made changes to the boundaries of juvenile court jurisdiction between 1992 and 1995, most made changes to their legislative exclusions:
As a result of these changes, at the end of 1995 legislative exclusion provisions were in place in 34 States.
Few States have concurrent jurisdiction provisions
In a few States, legislatures have given prosecutors the discretion to file certain juvenile cases in either court. The law places such cases under the jurisdiction of both the juvenile and criminal court and the decision of where to file is left to the prosecutor.
From 1992 through 1995, five States enacted or expanded their concurrent jurisdiction provisions. As of the end of 1995, 11 States had concurrent jurisdiction provisions.
All but four States have judicial waiver provisions
Several States changed their judicial waiver provisions from 1992-1995:
For many years, Nebraska and New York were the only States without judicial waiver provisions. Nebraska relied on prosecutor discretion as its transfer mechanism; New York relied on statutory exclusion. As of the end of 1995, two States (Connecticut and New Mexico) had removed their judicial waiver provisions in favor of legislative exclusions.
Other provisions affect juvenile transfers to criminal court
Many States (22) had provisions that allow cases to be transferred from criminal to juvenile court as of year-end 1995. Particularly in States with broad exclusion or concurrent jurisdiction provisions, "reverse" transfer statutes are a safety valve -- one last chance for a judge to decide (on a case-by-case basis) that the matter should be handled in juvenile court.
A number of States require that once an offender is waived from juvenile court or is convicted in criminal court, all subsequent cases are under criminal court jurisdiction. In 1995 these "once an adult, always an adult" provisions existed in 18 States.
States with lower upper ages of juvenile court jurisdiction "exclude" entire age groups
Between 1992 and 1995, three States lowered their upper age of original juvenile court jurisdiction. Wyoming lowered its upper age from 18 to 17, which brought it in line with most other States. New Hampshire and Wisconsin dropped their upper ages from 17 to 16. Prior to these changes, State upper ages of jurisdiction had remained unchanged for nearly two decades -- since Alabama raised its upper age from 15 to 16 and then to 17 in 1976 and 1977.
As of the end of 1995, legislatures in 13 States have excluded large numbers of offenders under the age of 18 from juvenile court by setting the upper age of juvenile court jurisdiction at 15 or 16 rather than 17. Although not typically thought of as transfers, an estimated 180,000 cases involving 16- or 17-year-olds were tried in criminal court in 1994 because they were legally defined as adults under State law.
Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1997 Update on Violence