Juvenile record use in adult court proceedings: a survey of prosecutors

by Joan R. Petersilia

Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price Price
Add to Cart Paperback33 pages $20.00 $16.00 20% Web Discount

Data from a national survey establishes that various constraints normally keep prosecutors from receiving or seeking much juvenile-record information. Although research indicates that juvenile records provide the best indicators and predictors of early adult criminality, various laws and procedures assure that they do not follow (thus, stigmatize) youthful offenders into adulthood. The result is a two-track system in which juvenile and adult justice systems rarely share information that might ensure more appropriate procedural treatment of youthful recidivists. Surprisingly, the protective intent of state statutes evidently has little effect on access to and use of juvenile records. However, it does affect the records' quality, making them ambiguous, incomplete, and, thus, minimally useful to prosecutors. Jurisdictions in which juvenile and adult courts share juvenile records, and when those records are of good quality, usually have other legal procedural policies and characteristics that imply systemwide consensus that juvenile records are pertinent and should be available to the adult system.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.