Processing young adult offenders between 18 and 24 years old in the adult court system rather than the juvenile court system results in
more offending, says a new study in the journal Criminology & Public Policy, edited by Florida State University. David Farrington of Cambridge University, Rolf Loeber of the University of Pittsburgh, and James Howell of the Comprehensive Strategy Group say that most young offenders naturally stop offending in their early 20s. Juveniles whose cases have been handled in adult courts and sent to prison with adults are much more likely to ontinue offending than those who were not dealt with by the adult system, the authors conclude. They argue that young adult offenders should be handled in specially designated courts that focus on rehabilitation and reentry and kept out of the adult system.
Elizabeth Cauffman of the University of California at Irvine agrees with the study but notes that increasing the age of maturity beyond 18 would mean little if prosecutors continue to transfer, try, and sentence juveniles as adults. Chris Gibson and Marvin Krohn of the University of Florida favor more research on juvenile culpability and caution against a widespread policy change that would allow offenders under the age of 24 to be handled by the juvenile court system. The journal is available free to members of the American Society of Criminology or can be purchased from the publisher, Blackwell Publishing. Journalists who want access to the issue should message Ted Gest, firstname.lastname@example.org