Cmrj 302 Should Juvenile Be Tried as Adults
Since the beginning of human time there have been sins, delinquent actions, crimes, and with all of this, punishment for those actions. From Cain and Able until today, the 21st Century, we still deal with these problems. And what’s worse is that now it is the children who are committing these crimes.
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Our, so called, future of tomorrow. The next generation of this country. Throughout recorded time, juvenile delinquency has been the very biggest issue to tackle. In the 15th century, the parens patriae concept was common and described parental care by the state or guardian of the community.
Children were property and punishment was delivered from the family and/or public punishment dealt by the village and in public. The juvenile justice system in the 19th Century adopted the parens patriae concept and provided the legal structure for the juvenile court system. In the late 1800’s reform schools were created and started, where reform was the main ideological theory, to instill in delinquent children; principals and morals to attempt to stray they away from future crime. Today, we still have trouble determining whether or not to try juveniles as adults, how to punish them, what works and what doesn’t.
When a juvenile kills, do they instantly become an adult? Do they maintain some kind of innocence of childhood, despite the severity of their actions? These are the plaguing questions in our American judicial system today. The violent acts of juvenile offenders continue to make headlines and are becoming more violent and unfortunately more frequently. So today, the question is, should juvenile be tried as adults? Yes. Yes, I believe that juveniles should be tried as adults. However, I also believe there should be a few exceptions. This is not really a black and white issue.
Exceptions should be put into place regarding, what type of crimes, age of the offender and what kind of punishments should be issued. This is what I will attempt to explain. The criminal justice system serves two primary functions: protecting society and providing retribution or punishment for a crime to achieve the value of justice or fairness. Concerning the protection of society from violent or even not violent offenders, the judge can ensure an appropriate penalty without having to try someone as a juvenile. I believe that juveniles can and should be tried as adults.
The judge and/or the jury can take the defendant’s age into consideration while deliberating and determining a suitable penalty for their crimes. The defendant’s attorney can make a legitimate argument in their defense based on their age, maturity and mental abilities or state of mind because age is not always the best indicator of maturity or personal accountability. This can ensure each case is evaluated individually not based on standards or common practice, but on an individual basis and attention which is what each case deserves.
Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida said in (2001) after a 14-year-old juvenile was found guilty for killing his English teacher; “There is a different standard for children, there should be some sensitivity that a 14-year-old is not a little adult. ” To this quote I have to disagree. All but five states allow children of any age charged with murder to be tried as adults. The death penalty generally not an option, at least not for defendants under the age of 16 since the U. S. Supreme Court has ruled capital punishment unconstitutional.
In fact, it was only in 2005, in Roper vs. Simmons , that the Supreme Court finally ruled the juvenile death penalty was unconstitutional. In arguing, the text describes a paradigm that informs legal reasoning in US law and specifically the Eighth Amendment’s barring of cruel and unusual punishment for anyone who hasn’t celebrated their 16th birthday. Some states, however, will consider 16 year olds and 17 year olds for the death penalty (Reaves, J. Time Magazine, (2001), Should the Law Treat Kids and Adults Differently? ).
Additionally, two cases are currently before the Supreme Court that affords our nation the opportunity to right this wrong and join the modern world. Sullivan vs. Florida and Graham vs. Florida will require the Supreme Court to rule on whether life sentences for juveniles that preclude the possibility of parole are, in fact, constitutional. Additionally, in most states, a juvenile offender must be at least 16-years-old to be eligible for waiver to adult court. But, in a number of states, minors as young as 13 could be subjected to a waiver petition.
And a few states allow children of any age to be tried as adults for certain types of crimes, such as homicide or armed robbery. Many states have laws that do not allow juvenile courts to take cases involving very serious or violent crimes, such as murder or armed robbery. Generally, juveniles are charged with delinquent acts, not crimes. However, the nature of some offenses may result in a juvenile being charged with a crime in the regular court system. In these instances, the juvenile’s age does not matter. They will be tried in the adult criminal system, unless transferred o juvenile courts by the judge. The current trend among states is to lower the minimum age of eligibility for waiver into adult court. This is due in part to public perception that juvenile crime is on the rise, and offenders are getting younger. Factors that might lead a court to grant a waiver petition and transfer a juvenile case to adult court include: •The juvenile is charged with a particularly serious offense. •The juvenile has a lengthy juvenile record. •The minor is older. •Past rehabilitation efforts for the juvenile have been unsuccessful.
Youth services would have to work with the juvenile offender for a long time. (Michon, Kathleen, J. D. , (2011) When Juveniles Are Tried in Adult Criminal Court) All states now maintain a juvenile code, or set of laws relating specifically to juveniles. The state codes regulate a variety of concerns, including the acts and circumstances that bring juveniles within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, the procedures for juvenile courts, the rights of juveniles, and the range of judicial responses to misconduct or to the need for services. Steinberg, Laurence, (2000) Should Juvenile Offenders Be Tried As Adults? A Developmental Perspective on Changing Legal Policies). The basic framework created by the first juvenile court act is largely intact and that rehabilitation, not punishment, remains the aim of the juvenile justice system, and juvenile courts still retain jurisdiction over a wide range of juveniles. (Retrieved from: http://law. jrank. org/pages/7958/Juvenile-Law-Modern-Juvenile-Law).
The most notable difference between the original model and current juvenile law is that juveniles now have more procedural rights in court. In re Gault, 387 U. S. 1 (1967), the United States Supreme Court established that children under the fourteenth amendment accused of crimes in a delinquency proceeding must be given many of the same due process rights as adults such as the right to timely notification of charges, the right to confront witnesses, the right against self-incrimination, and the right to counsel.
These rights also include the right to an attorney and the right to be free from self incrimination. These are rights given to adults and now to juveniles. Juveniles are committing the same crimes as adults, have the same rights as adults and also need to be tried as adults. Despite the input of these experts on the juvenile justice system, there are thousands of children who are automatically transferred to adult criminal court due to the change in the laws over the past few years.
In a report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (1998) titled Juvenile Felony Defendants in Criminal Courts, states that “an estimated 7,100 juvenile defendants were charged with felonies in adult criminal court in 1998”, and that in these criminal courts, “juveniles were more likely than adults to be charged with a violent felony” with juveniles occupying 64% of the felony charges in stark contrast with the adults who occupy 24% of those charges (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2009).
That report also states that showed that “transferring juveniles to adult court is not an effective deterrent of further criminal activity” (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2009). I completely disagree, juveniles would be better off tried in criminal courts and sentenced than to be tried in juvenile courts, and sentenced to rehabilitation. In the words of Pete Wilson, former Governor of California, “young offenders know they can laugh off the token punishment of our current juvenile justice system, they commit more and increasingly brutal crime.
That’s unacceptable…We must make clear to the violent youthful offenders, ones who just don’t want to be saved, that California will not tolerate their depravity. It will replace slaps on the wrist with the slapping on of handcuffs…and will impose adult time for adult crime. ” (retrieved from: www. voterdigest. com/yes-on-21). This is the kind of attitude and foresight that we need. In this day in age juveniles, even those younger than 14-years-old know that in this generation, the law can’t touch them and that most likely they will only get a slap on the wrist for the first offence or house arrest at best.
Murder by juvenile delinquents is rising in leaps and bounds and the justice system is giving them light sentences if any at all. What about the victim(s) and their family(s)? What about the police putting their lives in jeopardy every single day that arrest these children and before the ink is dry on the paper the children are walking down the front steps of the police station with those smirks and grins on their faces! As the quote goes, ‘You do the crime, you pay the time. ‘ There is ample evidence, therefore, to raise concerns regarding the ompetence of juveniles under age 15 to participate in criminal trials. Although the majority of 13 year-olds would likely meet the minimal competence criteria even at age 15, a significant fraction of adolescents should not be assumed competent to protect their own interests in adversarial legal settings. If an adolescent does not have the understanding, appreciation, or reasoning ability necessary to make such decisions, criminal court is an inappropriate venue for determining that adolescent’s disposition. Steinberg, Laurence, (2000) Should Juvenile Offenders Be Tried As Adults? A Developmental Perspective on Changing Legal Policies). Although I may believe that juveniles should be tried as adults, however, no juvenile under the age of 13 should be tried in an adult court. The adult justice system presumes that defendants who are found guilty are responsible for their own actions, and should be held accountable and punished accordingly. Historically, those who are guilty but less responsible for their actions receive proportionately less punishment.
It is therefore worth considering whether, because of the relative immaturity of minors, it may be justified to view them as being less blameworthy than adults for the very same infractions – that is, whether developmental immaturity should be viewed as a relevant mitigating factor. Children as young as nine have the capacity for intentional behavior and do know the difference between right and wrong; as such, there is no reason why children of this age must unequivocally be held blameless for their conduct.
At the same time, it is also clear that the vast majority of individuals younger than 13-years-old do lack certain intellectual and psychosocial capabilities that need to be present in order to hold someone fully accountable for his or her actions. These circumstances include situations that call for logical decision-making, situations in which the ultimate consequences of one’s actions are not evident unless one has actually tried to foresee them, and situations in which sound judgment may be compromised by competing stimuli, such as very strong peer pressure to violate the law.
Once individuals have reached a certain age, about 17 or so, it is reasonable to expect that they possess the intellectual and psychosocial capacities that permit the exercise of good judgment, even under difficult circumstances. Thus, while pressure from one’s friends to violate the law may be a reasonable mitigating factor in the case of a 12-year-old juvenile, it is unlikely to be so in the case of a 17-year-old juvenile.
When the individual under consideration is younger than 17, however, developmentally normative immaturity should be added to the list of possible mitigating factors, along with the more typical ones of self-defense, mental state, and extenuating circumstances. Finally, the choice of trying a juvenile offender in adult court versus juvenile court determines the possible outcomes of the adjudication. In adult court, the outcome of being found guilty of a serious crime is nearly always some sort of punishment; about 80% of juveniles who are convicted in criminal court are incarcerated.
In juvenile court, the outcome of being found delinquent may be some sort of punishment, but juvenile courts typically retain the option of a rehabilitative disposition, in and of itself or in combination with some sort of punishment. In essence, the juvenile court operates under the presumption that offenders are immature. (Steinberg, Laurence, (2000) Should Juvenile Offenders Be Tried As Adults? A Developmental Perspective on Changing Legal Policies). Juveniles tried as an adult and can face the same penalties as adults, including life without parole.
If convicted, juveniles will have an adult criminal record which can significantly affect future education and employment opportunities. Furthermore, an adult conviction can also result in the loss of rights, including the right to vote and right to own a firearm. (Lamance, Ken (2011) Juvenile Tried as an Adult). If a juvenile is convicted of certain sex offenses, he may be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, regardless of his age at the time of conviction.
In some states which automatically seal a juvenile’s record once he passes a certain age, that record may remain unsealed if the defendant is convicted of an adult offense before he reaches that age (Retrieved from: http://www. expertlaw. com/library/criminal/juvenile_law). The following are Common Juvenile Rights questions: Can a child receive capital punishment for a crime committed as juvenile? The United States Supreme Court in the case of Roper v. Simmons, 543 U. S. 551 (2005), stated that it is unconstitutional to impose capital punishment for crimes committed while under the age of 18.
The Courts 5-4 decision overruled the Court’s prior ruling upholding such sentences on offenders above or at the age of 16, in Stanford v. Kentucky, 492 U. S. 361 (1989), overturning statutes in 25 states that had the penalty set lower (Retrieved from: http://www. topjuveniledefender. com/juvenile_rights). Can a child receive life in prison without the possibility of parole for a non-homicide crime? In 2010, the United States Supreme Court in the case of Graham v. Florida ruled that children cannot be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for non-homicide offenses.
The U. S. Supreme Court decided whether Roper v. Simmons which had abolished the death penalty for juvenile offenders should also apply to sentences without the possibility of parole for children. Justice Kennedy stated, “The constitution prohibits the imposition of a life without parole sentence on a juvenile offender who did not commit a homicide. A state need not guarantee the offender eventual release, but if it imposes a sentence of life it must provide him or her with some realistic opportunity to obtain release before the end of that term. . . (Retrieved from: http://www. topjuveniledefender. com/juvenile_rights) Can a child receive a life sentence? Yes. If a child is prosecuted as an adult, he or she can receive a life sentence if convicted certain qualifying crimes. However, if a child is prosecuted in juvenile court, he or she can receive a sentence commonly called “juvenile life” that carries life but will be incarcerated only until the age of 25 years of age at the Department of Juvenile Justice (formerly the California Youth Authority. ) (Retrieved from: http://www. topjuveniledefender. om/juvenile_rights) The end result of a heinous crime remains the same, no matter who commits it. Our justice system depends upon holding perpetrators responsible for their actions. Harsh sentencing acts as a deterrent to kids who are considering committing crimes. Trying children as adults has coincided with lower rates of juvenile crimes. Light sentences don’t teach kids the lesson they need to learn: If you commit a terrible crime, you will spend a considerable part of your life in jail. (Reaves, J. Time Magazine, (2001) Should the Law Treat Kids and Adults Differently? Kids today are more sophisticated at a younger age; they understand the implications of violence and how to use violent weapons. It is absurd to argue that a modern child, who sees the effect of violence around him in the news every day, doesn’t understand what killing really is. The fact that child killers know how to load and shoot a gun is an indicator that they understand exactly what they’re doing. (Time Magazine, (2001) Should the Law Treat Kids and Adults Differently? ). I’ll end with a quote from Fredrick Douglas, “It is easier to build strong children then to repair broken men! ”