Sentencing Convicted Juvenile Felony Offenders in the Adult Court: The Direct Effects of Race


Rebecca J. Howell, University of Alabama, Department of Criminal Justice. E-mail:


While research indicates that Black and Hispanic adults sentenced in the criminal court tend to be rendered more severe punishments than their White counterparts, only one prior study has examined whether this finding holds for juveniles tried in the adult system. The findings from this sole study need replication, however, since the effects posed by trial type were not taken into account and it is likely that the results are confounded by measurement error resulting from overlap in criminal sentencing. The current study addressed these issues by assessing whether race has a direct impact on waived juveniles being criminally sentenced to restitution, probation, or jail. Data were derived from a secondary, cross-sectional national dataset on felony juvenile offenders convicted in the adult system. Three hypotheses were tested. After controlling for a number of important legal and extra-legal predictors of sentencing, race differences in sentencing outcomes were observed and the findings yielded partial support for the hypotheses. The implications of the research are noted. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.