The impact of waiver to adult court on youths’ perceptions of procedural justice.

The current study examined perceptions of fair treatment in a past court experience among a sample of incarcerated youth (n = 364). Perceptions were compared for youth whose cases were processed through juvenile (n = 261) versus adult court (n = 103) systems. In general, youth who were adjudicated in adult court felt more justly treated by legal authorities than youth adjudicated in juvenile court. Specifically, youth in adult court rated judges as only marginally more just than youth in juvenile court, but rated their defense attorney’s treatment as significantly more just. Youth rated the prosecutor’s treatment as relatively unjust regardless of where their case was handled. Differences in perceptions of procedural justice were also observed based on prior arrest history and race, with White youth and first-time offenders perceiving the process to be more just. Our findings should not be used as support for the increased transfer of youth into adult court, as other studies have demonstrated these youth tend to have worse outcomes. However, our findings do suggest that improvements should be made to increase elements of procedural justice in juvenile court settings. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)