Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Act 33 of 1995 is an amendment to Pennsylvania's Juvenile Act (2008). This amendment changed jurisdictional boundaries for juvenile offenders who committed violent crimes with weapons. As a result, youth who committed violent crimes with weapons were automatically transferred to the adult criminal justice system. Using punctuated equilibrium as the theoretical foundation, the purpose of this study was to determine if Act 33, as a punctuating event, resulted in an increase in the number of youth transferred to the adult criminal justice system and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in an urban county in Pennsylvania. Secondary data (N = 143) were acquired from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections on juveniles sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in Pennsylvania pre and post Act 33. Chi-square test with 2-way contingency table analysis was used to analyze the data. Results did not indicate a statistically significant association between the numbers of juveniles transferred to the adult criminal justice system and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole and the implementation of Pennsylvania of Act 33. The positive social change implications of this study include recommendations to the Pennsylvania legislators to increase state funds in order to implement service integration for juvenile lifers returning to the community.