Panel Paper: Walk like a Man: Racial Bias in Juvenile Transfer to Adult Courts

Thursday, November 7, 2019
Plaza Building: Lobby Level, Director's Row H (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Benjamin Hansen, University of Oregon

Many of the juvenile cases referred to the juvenile justice system end up transferred to the adult courts. We study the transfer process in two different systems: Oregon and Florida. In each state, age thresholds create discontinuities in the transfer rules. In Oregon, youth must be over age 15 to be transferred to the adult courts, and those who commit a subset of violent crimes are subject to mandatory transfer. In Florida at age 14 and 16 the set of crimes that can be transferred to the adult courts increase. Regression discontinuity based estimates suggest that racial gaps exist. Black youth are 2-3 times as likely to end up in the adult court system in Oregon, even holding crime constant. This is consistent with differences in family resources which help facilitate white youth in being transferred back to the juvenile court system.