Differential effects of adult court transfer on juvenile offender recidivism

Thomas A. Loughran, Edward P. Mulvey, Carol A. Schubert, Laurie Chassin, Laurence Steinberg, Alex R. Piquero, Jeffrey Fagan, Sonia Cota-Robles, Elizabeth Cauffman, Sandra Losoya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Prior research indicates that adolescent offenders transferred to adult court are more likely to recidivate than those retained in the juvenile system. The studies supporting this conclusion, however, are limited in addressing the issue of heterogeneity among transferred adolescents. This study estimates the effect of transfer on later crime using a sample of 654 serious juvenile offenders, 29% of whom were transferred. We use propensity score matching to reduce potential selection bias, and we partition the sample on legal characteristics to examine subgroup effects. We find an overall null effect of transfer on re-arrest, but evidence of differential effects of transfer for adolescents with different offending histories. These results suggest that evaluating the effects of transfer for all transferred adolescents together may lead to misguided policy conclusions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)476-488
Number of pages13
JournalLaw and human behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Adult transfer
  • Juvenile justice
  • Propensity scores
  • Sanctions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law


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