The use of judicial waiver has changed over the past decade

Table 31

The number of cases judicially waived nationwide increased 71% from 1985 through 1994

Between 1985 and 1994, the number of cases transferred annually to criminal court via judicial waiver rose from 7,200 to 12,300 (71%). Over the same timeframe, the overall number of delinquency cases rose 41%. Despite their growth, judicial waivers can still be characterized as a relatively rare event in juvenile court. Waived cases represented 1.4% of formally handled delinquency cases in 1994. In other words, for every 1,000 formally processed delinquency cases, 14 were waived to criminal court.

The profile of waived cases has changed

In 1994 as in 1985, the vast majority of waived cases involved youth age 16 or older; however the proportion of younger juveniles (under age 16) has increased (from 6% in 1985 to 12% in 1994). This may be a byproduct of new laws that lower the minimum waiver age or exclude older juveniles charged with certain crimes from juvenile court altogether.

Table 10

Compared with 1985, cases waived in 1994 involved a greater proportion of person offense cases (44% vs. 33%) and drug cases (11% vs. 5%). This shift may, in part, reflect changes in waiver statutes targeting these offense categories for more automatic or presumptive waiver.

table 11

The likelihood of waiver varied by offense and offender race

In 1994 person offense cases were more likely to be waived than cases involving other offenses.

Cases involving black youth were more likely to be waived than were cases involving white youth. In 1994, 1.9% of formal delinquency cases involving black juveniles were waived to criminal court, compared with 1.2% for whites.

Among white juveniles, from 1985 through 1994, the cases most likely to be waived were person offense cases. Among black juveniles, from 1989 through 1992, drug cases surpassed person offense cases in terms of the likelihood of waiver.

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Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1997 Update on Violence