The number of delinquency cases sent by judges from juvenile courts to adult tribunals peaked in 1994 at 13,600 cases, more than double the number from 1985, says the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in a new compilation. In 2011, juvenile courts waived an estimated 5,400 delinquency cases to adult courts, 61 percent fewer cases than in 1994.
The decline in juvenile violent crime drove much of the decrease throughout the 1990s. Another part of the decline can be attributed to state laws requiring some juvenile cases to be assigned initially to adult courts. The National Center for Juvenile Justice in Pittsburgh, which analyzed the data for DOJ, estimates that about 119,000 juvenile cases go directly to adult courts because they are in states like New York that consider 16-year-olds adults. That number should drop below 100,000 this year, the center says.