Why adolescents should not be tried as adults

Or does he maintain some trappings of childhood, despite the gravity of his actions?

Why adolescents should not be tried as adults

Should Juveniles Be Tried as Adults? While young people must be held accountable for serious crimes, the juvenile justice system exists for precisely that purpose. Funneling more youth into the adult system does no good and much harm.

As people, they are still active works in progress. So we change the rules of the game. In the last decade, virtually every state has made it much easier to try juveniles as adults.

These sweeping changes came amidst widespread alarm that a wave of "juvenile superpredators" was coming — which fortunately turned out to be false. In fact, juvenile crime was already falling by the time states were tightening the screws.

In some states, including Tennessee, there is now no minimum age for being transferred to criminal court for certain crimes. Kids as young as 10 have been charged as adults. The consequences of this switch-up can be extreme. Most young offenders do not become adult criminals.

But when we punish them as adults, we change those odds. Teens tried as adults commit more crimes when released; their educational and employment prospects are markedly worse, creating opportunity and incentive for more crime; they bear a lifelong, potentially debilitating stigma.

Juvenile Justice | FRONTLINE | PBS

The separate juvenile system was developed both to mitigate these harms and because youth were being preyed upon and "schooled in crime" while in adult prisons. We are now sending them straight back to that harsh schoolyard.

All this for little or no payoff: Increased transfer has never been shown to reduce juvenile crime. Our desire to ratchet up consequences is understandable. This is why we historically have built in a small "safety valve," under which transfer arguably is appropriate for those very few offenders who are extremely close to the age cutoff and commit particularly awful crimes.

The trouble is that the valve has both expanded and lost its spring.

Why adolescents should not be tried as adults

Indeed, people now act as if the decision to treat a juvenile as a juvenile implies a judgment that the crime was not that serious, the victims not that worthy of respect. I once attended the sentencing of a teenager — Clarence — who had killed a woman — Pauline — who sang in my choir.

The proceeding was no less solemn, no less tragic by reason of being in a juvenile court. Clarence was sent to a secure facility that very much resembled a prison. His family was destroyed. The only slight glimmer of hope was that Clarence might, while incarcerated, grow up and become a law-abiding adult and that we would not collectively make him worse than when he went in.

When we consign our youth to the adult system, we are throwing away even that glimmer. Juvenile sentences, in contrast, shield our youth from the unique dangers of adult facilities and preserve the possibility — however slight it may seem — of rehabilitation.

Maroney joined the Vanderbilt Law faculty as assistant professor in Fall And if they do, they know they have a good chance of getting off because they are tried as teens and not adults.

We have to get tougher on crime. There should be a law that everyone over eleven years old will be tried as adults. That way more teens would be discouraged from committing crimes.

There's not been a lot of extensive research into the impact of laws making it easier to try kids as adults. But the studies that do exist indicate that the get tough approach has had little or no.

Teenagers are not adults; therefore, they should not be tried as adults. The main reason prosecutors move to try teens as adults is to secure a harsher sentence.

Should Teens Be Tried As Adults | Teen Ink

This is a symptom of a larger problem in that prisons do no treat and rehabilitate inmates. We are, as a nation, very much in favor of treating child criminals as adults — a recent ABC news poll showed 55 percent of us believe the crime, not the perpetrator's age, should be the determining factor in sentencing.

A child is not an adult. Even if we ignore recent research that concludes human brain development continues well into our 20s, there is long-held support We Shouldn't Charge Children as Adults.

The study recommends that states reconsider the minimum age for juveniles to be tried as adults or to develop a system for evaluating young defendants' competence. The report follows a decade of state efforts to make it easier to try children as adults.

Youths Shouldn't Be Tried As Adults, Study Says