The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics will fund an outside organization at about $500,000 to help develop and conduct data collection for a survey of states regarding juveniles charged in adult courts, reports Youth Today. It will be the first federally-funded attempt at gathering information about that population in more than a decade. Juvenile advocates opposed to the practice now must use only anecdotes and snippets of data. Transfer laws “were originally intended to go after the most serious offenders,” said Liz Ryan, of the Campaign for Youth Justice. “We would like to know what's actually happened with these laws and how many kids every year are dealt with in adult court.”
The first federal attempt to look at juveniles in adult systems, published in 1998, showed a lot about the racial disparity in juvenile transfers and about the nature of the crimes committed by transferred youth. At the time, two-thirds of the juveniles handled in adult court were there for violent felony offenses, and 63 percent of the youth in adult court were black males. The new survey, based on a sample of about 12,000 cases from 120 jurisdictions, will include misdemeanor offenders as well as felons, which will give a more accurate indication of the volume. The guess is that about 200,000 juveniles are handled in adult court every year, Youth Today says. It will likely be at least two years before the survey is finished.