Kids Can Change: Reforming South Dakota’s Juvenile Transfer Law to Rehabilitate Children and Protect Public SafetySouth Dakota Law Review (2014)
AbstractSouth Dakota, like many other states, permits adult criminal prosecution, sentencing, and imprisonment of certain minors who commit a crime. The mechanism which allows prosecution of a child as an adult is referred to as “juvenile transfer,” because the juvenile court’s jurisdiction over the child is transferred to the adult criminal court. The article discusses how the juvenile transfer mechanism developed — both generally and in South Dakota — as well as how it operates today. The author summarizes research findings about the efficacy and fairness of juvenile transfer. Harsh criminal consequences for juveniles are increasingly disfavored as we learn more about youth development. For example, in 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Miller v. Alabama, where it held that the Eighth Amendment prohibits sentencing juveniles to life imprisonment without parole. The Court’s decision was based, in part, on emerging scientific evidence about juvenile brain development and the fact that youth have greater capacity for change than adults. In addition to the research about youth development, the article discusses research about the inefficacy of juvenile transfer as a response to crime as well as the disproportionate impact juvenile transfer has on youth of color. The author recommends changes to South Dakota’s juvenile transfer laws in order to: refocus on the best interests of the child, return decision-making authority to the juvenile court, and add certain procedural safeguards to the juvenile transfer process.
- juvenile transfer,
Publication DateFall 2014
Citation InformationWendy Hess, Kids Can Change: Reforming South Dakota’s Juvenile Transfer Law to Rehabilitate Children and Protect Public Safety, 59 South Dakota Law Review 312 (2014).