Indiana Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2022

Publication Citation

97 Indiana Law Journal 365 (2022)


Indiana’s juvenile justice system, like all systems of juvenile justice, is premised on rehabilitation. And while Indiana is far from an outdated, overly punitive system, there are several tangible opportunities for improvement. Indiana enacted an alternative sentencing scheme for juvenile offenders waived into adult court in 2013, but alternative sentencing has not been implemented in an effective manner yet. Furthermore, Indiana’s statutory system of waiver contains several aspects that are inconsistent with, or simply fail to account for, modern social science understandings.

This Comment seeks to expound upon relevant social science principles within the context of juvenile justice in order to bring to light many of the considerations that form the basis of a developmentally focused system. The Comment will bring to light twenty-first century literature on adolescent brain development and explain how youth behavioral tendencies can be better understood in light of this research. The Comment then takes an in-depth look at Indiana’s system of “presumptive waiver” and its alternative sentencing scheme. Throughout this analysis, the Comment will highlight serious problems and inconsistencies within these statutory schemes.

The Comment will conclude with four concrete reform proposals that seek to enhance Indiana’s system of waiver and alternative sentencing by making changes informed by developmental social science principles. These reform proposals are not unrealistic, system-rocking changes made for political grandstanding and internet clickbait. They are real proposals that can be effectively and immediately implemented without large-scale disruption. This Comment will demonstrate that these proposals should be taken into serious consideration by the Indiana legislature.