Juveniles In Adult Courts essay example
Although intention plays some role in determining the severity of the crime, considerations of the juvenile's immature judgment, dysfunctional family life, low cognitive function, poor impulse control and other factors are deemed irrelevant. In such an approach, minors are presumed to have the same ability to comprehend the nature of their act, to consent to committing it and to be invested in committing it as an adult. This unfair presumption is based simply on the act itself and the severity of its impact on the victim. Recent brain studies indicate that children and adolescents do not process emotionally charged information the same as an adult.
Other research has shown that while strong emotions can cloud or distort judgments for adults and adolescents, the adolescents experience wider and more frequent mood swings. All this suggest that juveniles lack the cognitive and emotional maturity of adults and are less likely to think rationally when faced with emotionally charged decisions and, therefore, should be held less accountable for their choices. For this reason, a juvenile offender should not be sentenced in an adult criminal court. Juveniles Tried As Adults 3 Sentencing juveniles to adult prisons is not only immoral, but the impact of sentencing juveniles in adult courts falls unequally on the minority youth. For example, non-white youths in California are eight times more likely than white youths to be sentenced by an adult court to incarceration in a youth facility and three times more likely to be transferred to adult court for trial and sentencing (Young, L. 2004). This discrimination undermines the credibility of the juvenile justice system.
How can a system with such disparities among the races be considered fair and equal? Sentencing juveniles to adult punishment subjects young offenders to conditions that are unacceptable for children. Adult prisons offer little or no counseling or education at the secondary level. For these youths, long sentences served in adult prisons basically end all possibilities of living a meaningful life once they are released as adults.
Additionally, youths that are incarcerated in adult facilities are likely to be sexually assaulted, beaten by staff or attacked with a weapon. According to Stephen Donaldson of Stop Prison Rape, nearly 300,000 incarcerated boys and men are raped every year. The most vulnerable of these inmates are the youngest, weakest, and least experienced. Many in society have condemned these juveniles as unalterable criminals.
This criminalization of the youth takes us back to Victorian England when poor and mentally-disturbed youths were dumped in warehouses, terrorized and beaten. How can we assume that 14 and 15 year olds are already beyond redemption? Subjecting juvenile offenders to this sort of abuse and categorizing them as hopeless, vicious and amoral is a great mistake. Juveniles Tried As Adults 4 For years juvenile judges have had the power to "waive" their cases into adult criminal courts. This power is unfairly abused. Between 1985 and 1994 the number of cases that juvenile judges sent to adult courts increased by 71%, from 7,200 to 12,300 cases annually.
In the past, juvenile judges took information from parents, educators, social workers and others to evaluate an individual child's social history, school, family and peer situation. On that basis, they made a judgment based on the "best interest' of the child and the community to order probation, state schooling, or community program aimed at rehabilitating a child. Now, the prosecutors decide the child's fate based entirely on the crime. The prosecutors do not take the time to investigate the social history of a child.
They just ask 'what did this kid do?' Many of them are driven by political agendas and want to run for offices. They know that they are damning these children, but they need to appear tough. Locking a child up in an adult prison is a sure way to create a monster. It is believed that most juvenile offenders have suffered from neglect, poverty and violence and were victims themselves. The vast majority of juvenile offenders came out of households with incomes below $10,000 per year. Thirty percent had mental disorders and 75 percent of the girls and 50 percent of the boys had been sexually assaulted (White, J. 1998).
Children are our future. Children who are abused and neglected have little chance of going the right way. They cannot walk away from lives of crime without adult intervention and rehabilitation. Think about your own children.
What if your son or daughter were to "mess up" and end up in the juvenile justice system? Would you want Juveniles Tried As Adults 5 your child sentenced in an adult court into an adult prison? These children require understanding and rehabilitation that should be afforded to all children, not punishment as an adult. Juveniles Tried As Adults 6.