Virginia. Using multivariate logistic regression, they found that the factors most important to juvenile judges' decisions to transfer a case included current offense, prior record, and age. Most likely to be transferred were juveniles who were charged with homicide, rape, or drug sales; older juveniles; juveniles who used a gun in committing the offense; and those with prior felony person or drug adjudications or prior commitment to a residential juvenile corrections facility (learning center). Judges in metropolitan courts in Virginia were less likely to transfer cases than were those in rural counties. A small study of judicially transferred cases in New Mexico found similar results (Houghtalin and Mays, 1991). Podkopacz and Feld (1996) analyzed transfer motions filed between 1986 and 1992 in Hennepin County, Minnesota, and determined that in addition to age, present offense, and weapon use, the recommendations of probation officers and clinical evaluators significantly affected the eventual judicial waiver decision. They also found prior correctional interventions to be significant: youths with no prior program placements and those with only a few (1 to 3) were less likely to be certified to adult court than youths with four or more placements.
In contrast to the findings on judicial transfers, Bishop and Frazier (1991) found that juveniles transferred through prosecutorial waiver (direct file) in Florida from 1979 to 1981 were less often violent or chronic offenders: 55 percent of those waived were felony property offenses and only 29 percent were felony person offenses. Clarke (1996), in a study of automatic transfer (offenses legislatively excluded from the juvenile court) in Cook County, Illinois, from 1992 to 1994, found that 39 percent of the transfers were for drug or weapon offenses, 25 percent were for murder, and 22 percent were for armed robbery. The proportion of transfer cases for murder had dropped from nearly half of those transferred by judicial waiver from 1975 to 1981 to a quarter under automatic transfer. Clarke (1996) concluded that Illinois's automatic transfer provisions failed to identify and therefore protect the public against serious violent juvenile offenders. Instead, they prosecuted and stigmatized many juveniles who did not represent a threat to public safety and who could benefit from the more rehabilitative programs of the juvenile court.
A high proportion of the juveniles transferred to adult court are minorities. For example, blacks and Hispanics made up 94.7 percent of those transferred in the Cook County, Illinois, study (Clarke, 1996). Hispanics and American Indians made up 67 percent of judicially transferred cases in the New Mexico study (Houghtalin and Mays, 1991). The preponderance of minorities among transferred juveniles may be explained in part by the fact that minorities are disproportionately arrested for serious crimes. In the Fagan et al. (1987a) analysis, the effects of race on the judicial transfer decision were found to be indirect.