The selection criteria used by the Philadelphia Juvenile Court Habitual Offender Unit (HOU) to determine which youths to designate serious habitual offenders and to involved in specialized prosecution were examined with respect to their nature and effectiveness.
The research used police, court, and school records. The analysis revealed that only 500 of the nearly 11,000 petitions processed by the court involved youths who were designated serious habitual offenders. The way to qualify for prosecution by the HOU was to have two or more prior or pending adjudications for specified felonies and a current arrest for a specified felony. The specialized prosecution is designed to improve just deserts and crime control. However, the selection criteria are nonspecific and result in the prosecution of both high and low-rate serious offenders by the HOU. Therefore, scarce and shrinking resources are spread out over the high as well as the low- offending groups. HOU selection criteria might be improved by considering the addition of other criteria, the use of additional official records, and the testing of additional criteria through a field experiment. Tables and footnotes
Date Published: January 1, 1996
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