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ABSTRACT

This study examined how judicial knowledge and attitudes about transfer affects transfer decisions by juvenile court judges. Participants included 232 juvenile court judges from around the country who completed a vignette survey that presented a prototypical case involving a serious juvenile offender. Participants were asked to decide whether the juvenile should be transferred and to rate his rehabilitative potential. Judges who believed in the deterrent effects of transfer were more likely to recommend that the juvenile be transferred and to rate him as having lower rehabilitative potential. More experienced judges saw greater rehabilitative potential in the juvenile and were less likely to transfer him to the criminal court. Overall, judges tended to think that transfer lacked general and specific deterrent effects, endorsed rehabilitative over punitive goals in sentencing, and felt positively about the juvenile justice system's effectiveness in handling serious offenders. Yet, a sizable minority of judges felt otherwise. The implications of the findings for judicial education and legal advocacy are discussed.