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Juvenile Record Use in Adult Court Proceedings - A Survey of Prosecutors

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1981
26 pages
Findings are presented from a survey of a national sample of prosecutors to determine their use of juvenile records in adult court processing.
The 1979 survey had a return rate of 66 percent, resulting in an overall sample size of 71. The questionnaire dealt with the prior record information the prosecutor usually had when processing the case of a young adult defendant, the prosecutor's opinion as to the quality of the information, the effect that such information had on the prosecutor's decisions, and other related matters. The study focused primarily on crime-related information consisting mainly of records of arrest, adjudication, and disposition for serious offenses. Nearly half of the respondents reported receiving little or no juvenile record information on young adult felony defendants in their jurisdictions. Responses also indicated that important prosecutorial decisions are made regarding young felons without knowledge of their juvenile histories. Prosecutors generally indicated, however, that if they had fuller knowledge of a young adult's juvenile history, they would not hesitate to use it in most aspects of case disposition. Statutory restrictions appeared to be unrelated to the amount of information shared or the impact of such information on decisionmaking. Respondents considered probation records the most accurate, although police records were used most often. The age of maximum juvenile court jurisdiction was associated with the amount of information shared. As information-sharing increased, the age of maximum jurisdiction increased. The presence of computerized as opposed to manual information systems does not appear to increase the amount, quality, or use of the juvenile record information by prosecutors at the present time. Tabular data are provided. (Author summary modified)

Date Published: January 1, 1981