Legislative Updates from Around the Country

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Juvenile Justice Initiative has made a significant change in automatic transfers in Illinois. In 2005, JJI eliminated automatic drug transfer provisions which decreased the number of youth automatically excluded from juvenile court  by two-thirds compared to previous years. Read the impact of the reform here.

Currently JJI is working to amend the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 to restore individual review to determine whether a youth is tried in juvenile or adult court through an individualized court hearing that takes into account the child’s age, the degree of the participation in offense and individual circumstances. Check the fachsheet here.


Colorado narrowed direct file eligibility by age and offense. Youth ages 14 to 15 can now only be considered for adult court in hearings presided over by juvenile court judges. Colorado also amended the law so that youth prosecuted as adults can file a reverse waiver – a petition to bring the case back to juvenile court. Youth ages 16 to 17 that are direct filed as adults can request a reverse transfer hearing presided over by adult court judges to decide whether the case should be transferred to juvenile court.


Nevada has changed the laws so that only those youth who are at least 16 years old, commit a specified felony, and have previously been convicted of a felony may be transferred to adult court.


Prior to 2009, youth who had previously been transferred to adult court were automatically prosecuted as adults for any future charges, including cases where the youth was found NOT guilty of the original charge. The Washington Legislature amended the laws so that the youth who were previously transferred but were found not guilty would not be automatically prosecuted as adults. In the same year, the Legislature also amended the automatic transfer provision to allow a youth to be transferred back to juvenile court upon agreement of the defense and prosecution without requiring a reduction of the charge.