Researcher ORCID Identifier

Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department

Political Studies

Reader 1

Gregory Antill

Reader 2

Rachel VanSickle-Ward

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Rights Information

© 2021 Molly K Lockwood


Does the practice of charging juveniles as adults serve the retributive and consequentialist goals of criminal justice policy? Proponents of limiting juvenile court jurisdiction argue that the rehabilitation-oriented remedies available therein are neither sufficient to hold adolescents accountable for wrongdoing, nor strong enough to deter future youth crime. The first chapter of this thesis examines the forward and backward looking premises underlying juvenile transfer to adult criminal court. I find that transfer policies are inconsistent with dominant theories of responsibility and punishment as applied to juveniles. I argue in Chapter One that transfer produces undesirable outcomes with respect to the youth it impacts—who are less blameworthy and more amenable to reform compared with adults—and also with respect to society as a whole. Chapter Two turns to an analysis of case law challenging transfer policies, and finds that legislative pathways to reform are more likely to be effective than court-based challenges. I conclude that voters and policymakers must take action to correct the failed policy of charging youth as adults.

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Criminal Law Commons