Should Juveniles be tried as Adults?
Given the fundamental distinctions amid youths and adults, the approach of juveniles violating the law has historically been aimed at treating and rehabilitating them while ensuring public safety. Many controversies are surrounding this fact when contrasted with those in the adult justice system. The human intelligence develops throughout the adolescent stage with the pre-frontal cortex developing until mid-twenties. They are therefore not fully developed to be tried as adults. Juveniles’ brains are not matured fully, their thought processes and decision making differs from adults’. They have difficulty in taking other individual perspectives and often cannot consider long-term consequences of their actions, For instance, it is developmentally normative for juveniles to show superior susceptibility and indulge in risky peer influences as opposed to adults (National Research Council, 2013). These otherwise normal variances contribute to behaviors in the juvenile justice system involvement. Besides developmental influences, cognitive deficits, living in poverty, low school involvement, homelessness or being runway are additional risk factors that are associated with youths who end up in juvenile justice systems (Mendel, 2010).
When tried as an adult, they may end up being worse individuals, and they will lose their sense of hope. Apart from being developmentally immature and irresponsible, juveniles are more impulsive, vulnerable to negative peer pressure and erratic. Furthermore, they are active workers in progress like any other people. Being tried in the adult system does not reduce recidivism; actually, it increases crime. Unlike adults, Juvenile systems are uniquely positioned for redemption and reform as they are equipped with proper rehabilitative and treatment services that help juveniles to be healthier and productive members of the society. A hopeful system should have efforts that focus on refining mental health services access, enhanced services, and generating operational alternatives to conventional residential placement amenities.
Constitutionally, juveniles’ rights are in danger of abuse when tried in the adult justice system. Miranda rights, for instance, require special attention when applied to minors. Unlike Adult who is allowed to waive when they choose to, juveniles should be guided by trusted and competent adults. Officials, as it is in adult courts, should not hastily embolden juveniles to relinquish their Miranda rights. Contrary to popular beliefs, it is a juvenile offender, but not his or her guardian or parent, who decide what to tell the defense attorneys and police. He or she decides whether a plea bargain or to go on trial. Common sense suggests that juveniles are too young to take on such weighty legal responsibilities. Considering juveniles age, Courts rarely consider whether they lack the competence to stand before trial or not. Every juvenile has a competency hearing before trial.
Affirmatively, juveniles in adult criminal law courts go through same penalties as their counterpart adults, together with life without parole. Harsh and mandatory, punishments are unbearable for juvenile offenders. For instance, in Colorado Appeals Court, Adult laws affirm that the fixing of prison terms for any given crime entails substantial penological judgment. The bill is appropriately within the legislatures’ province but not the courts. In such a case, the court cannot set mandatory sentences even though it does not make the status correct even in legislatures state. Mandatory life imprisonment for juveniles is too punitive, it put them last in line for rehabilitation class programs and hardens the clemency filing process for failure to provide any rehabilitation. Furthermore, a life tainted by strict penalty breeds nothing productive. Instead, it diminishes the chances of a juvenile to be reformed to a productive member of the society.
In conclusion, courts refuse to recognize that the juvenile justice systems are flawed hence protecting their governmental responsibility of protecting rights. Juveniles tried in adult courts are denied protection rights as well as abilities to overcome their mistakes. Before trying juveniles in adult courts, courts should consider rehabilitation for the best focus interest of the juvenile offender. Furthermore, they should refrain from hash sentencing that may seem unnecessary. While vindictive punishments increase crimes, rehabilitation tailored reforms for the unique needs of juveniles enable their system to be effective. Before trying or sentencing both juveniles with violent and mid-range offenses in traditional court systems, it is wise to consider the setting and security of their placement facilities and rehabilitation camp-like programs. Many juvenile offenders report trauma and mental health illness symptoms regardless of their age, gender or race (McPherson & Sedlak, 2010). Therefore, juvenile offenders can change their lives, the state and the federal laws and official can, therefore, take a positive step to enact policies to redeem them as opposed to them that are throwing them to prison for the rest of their lives.
- McPherson, K. S., & Sedlak, A. J. (2010). Youth’s needs and services: Findings from the Survey of Youth in Residential Placement. Juvenile Justice Bulletin.
- Mendel, R. (2010). The Missouri Model: Reinventing the practice of rehabilitating youthful offenders. Annie E. Casey Foundation.
- National Research Council. (2013). Reforming juvenile justice: A developmental approach. National Academies Press.