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Profiles, Predictors, and Minority Overrepresentation in Jurisdictional Decisions for Maryland Youths: A Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2003
82 pages

As part of an effort to examine the impact of juvenile waiver legislation enacted in Maryland in 1994 and 1998, this research developed prediction models for waiver, determined profiles for juveniles in each waiver category, and compared 1990-92 minority overrepresentation results with 1998-99 data for various decision points and extension into the adult system.


Maryland's waiver laws mandate adult-court original jurisdiction for all juveniles charged with 1 or more of 14 specified serious offenses. These laws have had the effect of changing the court of original jurisdiction from the juvenile to the adult court for approximately 1,500 juveniles per year. The overall purpose of the current study was to determine whether the juveniles targeted in this legislation were being processed in accordance with the legislature's expectations. The subjects for the study were 298 males ages 12-19; 80.2 percent were Black. The sample was a combination of urban and rural juveniles processed in 1998. A total of 69 were classified as at-risk for waiver; 105 were waived by judicial decision; 72 had a wavier reversed; and 52 were under mandated legislative waiver. Logistic regression was used to create predictor models of waiver and reverse waiver. Clustering was used to develop profiles of the waiver groups, and the overrepresentation data were analyzed by using a proportion to the general population index in the State. The study concluded that waiver decisions were based in predictors that involved both legal and extra-legal variables. The profiles of the juveniles suggest treatment and security needs and indicate the need for flexible individualized treatment. The overrepresentation of Black juveniles at nine decision points in case processing has worsened since 1992 in the juvenile justice system and also is present in the adult system. The study recommends that the Maryland legislature tailor waiver decision criteria and their proportional weights to the desired outcomes of waiver policy. Further, a future prospective study should use adequate sampling procedures and collect a broader array of characteristics from multiple sources than was the case in the current study. This would develop more accurate predictors and profiles. Although the data collected and analyzed indicated the overrepresentation of Black juveniles in the waiver system, a racial basis for waiver decisions was not found. Future research should address the causes of overrepresentation so as to inform policy changes. 7 tables, 3 figures, 60 references, and appended supplementary data and methodological information

Date Published: July 1, 2003