Justice by Geography: Do Politics Influence the Prosecution of Youth as Adults?

CJCJ’s new report finds that counties with Republican district attorneys are more likely to directly file youth in adult, criminal court.

A new report from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ) analyzes the relationship between the political party affiliations of California’s district attorneys and county rates of direct file. When Proposition 21 was passed in 2000, district attorneys (DAs) were afforded sole discretion to file charges against youth directly in adult, criminal court. Does the political affiliation of a county’s DA bear any relation to the odds that a youth will be direct filed in adult court?

The report finds that:

While young people were more likely to be direct filed in counties with a Republican district attorney in 2014, disparities in the use of direct file are a problem for all parties. There is a large race/ethnicity and gender divergence in use of direct file regardless of the party affiliation of the DA. Granting prosecutors the sole discretion to determine whether a youth is tried in adult court contributes to a system of extreme disparities. These disparities grow more pronounced when considering the party affiliation of the DA.

 Read the full report >>

Contact: For more information about this topic or to schedule an interview, please contact CJCJ Communications at (415) 621- 5661 x 121 or