More than 20 years after an expansion of juvenile transfer policies, questions remain regarding the specific deterrent effect of juvenile waiver given the singular focus on the court of jurisdiction and neglect of other critical aspects of the provision, such as the incapacitation experience. Prior research has also not been focused on identifying the mediating mechanisms that produce criminogenic, null, or deterrent effects. We use data from the Pathways to Desistance Study, propensity score methodology, and mediational analyses to examine how and why the waiver‐incapacitation experience is related to recidivism rates during emerging adulthood. We find that the prior focus on a binary “waiver effect” is potentially misleading as it masks meaningful variation. Furthermore, we find that the path to increased recidivism in emerging adulthood is indirect and we identify stymied educational attainment as a mediator. Our discussion is focused on the criminogenic effects of incapacitation for juveniles and its implications for juvenile transfer research. The discussion also calls for future research to explore treatment heterogeneity further.