Predictive factors effecting outcomes for juvenile delinquent cases in Tennessee

Debrah Wright Stafford, Tennessee State University


Ever since the juvenile court was established over 100 years ago, there has been a provision for transferring juvenile justice cases for serious, violent juvenile offenses to adult court. This condition was established; realizing juvenile courts needed an alternative for handling the most severe cases. However, over the past 20 years, juvenile transfers to adult court have consisted of more than "serious, violent" juvenile delinquent cases, where transferred cases often include non-violent offenses. In addition, minority youth cases are more likely to be transferred to adult court than white youth cases. There has also been an increase in the number of delinquent cases placed in the child welfare system or state custody, which often serves as a connection to the juvenile justice system. Policy implementation procedures which eliminated the use of the judicial waiver process for transferring delinquent cases to adult court and establishing the use of the prosecutorial direct file and/or statutory exclusion process for transfers have negatively affected the outcomes for youth in general and specifically resulted in the disproportionality of minority youth in the adult system. Therefore, this study looks at factors that affect the judicial waiver process, which the state of Tennessee continues to use, for transferring juvenile delinquent cases, as well as factors that affect cases placed in state custody. There are three outcomes for juvenile delinquent cases in Tennessee that this study focuses on: dismissed, placed in the Department of Children's Services (DCS) custody and transferred to adult court. As a result, there are four predictors that assist in keeping cases out of state custody and out of transfers to adult court: the distinction between urban/rural courts, law enforcement as the referral source for delinquent cases, an indication of a juvenile case with in-school status and the evidence of a juvenile case with special education status.

Subject Area

Public administration|Criminology|Public policy

Recommended Citation

Debrah Wright Stafford, "Predictive factors effecting outcomes for juvenile delinquent cases in Tennessee" (2013). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3599439.