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This article analyzes the implementation of Minnesota's new EJJ blended sentencing law in Hennepin County (Minneapolis), the largest metropolitan county in the state.
In addition to changing the waiver provisions, the 1995 law created a new, intermediate category--Extended Jurisdiction Juvenile Prosecutions (EJJ)--in which juvenile courts could try some serious young offenders in juvenile court, provide them with all adult criminal procedural safeguards (including the right to a jury trial), and then impose both a juvenile court sentence and a stayed adult criminal sentence.
The 1995 law created an intermediate Extended Jurisdiction Juvenile (EJJ) status.
One gateway to EJJ is an unsuccessful attempt to certify a youth.
A third gateway to EJJ status arises when a prosecutor charges a youth sixteen or seventeen years of age with a presumptive-certification offense and designates the case as an EJJ prosecution automatically without any further judicial review (Option 2, Table 1).
Finally, the legislation provides a fourth gateway to EJJ prosecution for other serious and younger offenders.
Regardless of the mechanism by which a county attorney commences an EJJ prosecution, an EJJ youth receives greater procedural protections than those available in ordinary juvenile delinquency prosecutions, including the right to a jury trial.
The legislature "regarded an EJJ prosecution as `one last chance at success in the juvenile system' and discussed how to prevent `one last chance' from becoming two, or three, or four more chances." (61) While some legislators wanted any juvenile probation violation or new offense to result in automatic execution of the stayed adult sentence, others feared that mandatory revocation for technical violations or trivial offenses would be excessively rigid and could remit many inappropriate youths to prison.
"Although provisions to revoke probation and execute the adult sentences are essential elements of the EJJ status, some [proponents of the law] feared that many youths might enter adult correctional facilities through this procedural back door." (67) An EJJ youth is one whom a judge or a prosecutor already has determined can remain in juvenile court consistently with "public safety." Proponents feared that even if a probation violation is not a presumptive-commitment-to-prison offense, an EJJ youth whose probation is revoked likely will be incarcerated as an adult offender.
Hennepin County is the most populous county in the state, experiences the largest volume and rate of youth crime, and accounts for about one-third of all of the EJJ and certification cases in Minnesota.
Our data begins at the point at which the prosecuting attorney decides to file either an EJJ motion or a certification motion in conjunction with a delinquency petition.
We explored with the juvenile justice personnel the aspects of the presumptive certification and EJJ laws with which they were satisfied and dissatisfied.
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