Juveniles Tried as Adults
A recent survey indicates that eighty percent of registered voters want juveniles who have committed certain crimes to be tried as adults . Many individuals believe that by doing so and by sending juvenile offenders to adult prisons, crimes committed by teenagers will be deterred. As a result, more states than not have laws permitting prosecutors to charge juveniles as adults. However, some experts challenge this notion and are convinced that juveniles should not be tried as adults. This paper will present evidence to suggest that it is inappropriate and ineffective to try minors as adults.
The juvenile court system was first established almost one hundred years ago. Its formation was a reaction by the community that saw the effects of the adult criminal system on children. Thus, "these reformers believed that children and adolescents were fundamentally different from adults, and that non‑penal environments were necessary for most delinquent children in order to steer them to productive and crime‑free lives”. With the Zeitgeist of our times, however, it would seem that the American criminal justice system as it applies to juveniles might be right back where it started.
Rehabilitation is often cited as the alternative to trying juvenile defendants as adults and sentencing them to prison. Incarceration often encourages criminal behavior. Thus, the convicted juvenile is likely to commit more crimes when he is eventually released. However, if the juvenile is allowed to participate in rehabilitation programs that enable him or her to reform, then the chances of recidivism are reduced.
Children who are tried as adults and sent to adult prison often face harsh treatment and a dismal future. Many experts warn that children in adult prisons are often abused and mistreated by adult inmates. These young offenders are thirty percent more likely to commit crimes when they are released than offenders in juvenile detention centers. Additionally, young offenders are eight times more likely to commit suicide if they are placed with adult prisoners.
In recent years, Congress has promised to get tougher on crime. As part of this pact, states will be given a share of 1.6 billion dollars if they enact stricter laws regarding juvenile crime. The proposal is intended to encourage states to enact laws that will try juveniles as adults and place them in adult prisons upon conviction.