The frequency of young kids committing horrendous crimes has been on a steady rise for the past couple of decades. This has brought up a very controversial topic that people seem to be very passionate about, trying juvenile’s as adults. There are many differences between the justice system for juveniles and the justice system for adults, although many would believe that it is the same at it’s core, it is surely not. In juvenile courts there are no juries and no trials by jury either. In adult courts the sentencing is much harsher and the chance of getting off the hook with some counseling is very slim. If a juvenile is defined as a person under the age of 18, how can you justify trying them in a court designed for adult offenders? In order to better understand the passion behind this debate it is best to gain some insight from both sides of the fight.
Pros of Juveniles Being Tried As Adults
1. Brings Justice For Extreme Crimes
While juveniles may be kids, they should have the ability to distinguish right from wrong, especially in extreme circumstances. Victims and the families of victims still deserve a sense of justice if one of their family members is affected or even killed by a juvenile offender.
2. Courts Focus On Age Instead of Crime
The juvenile courts have a strong tendency to only focus on the age of the offender rather than the actual nature and reason for the crime that they committed. A 10 year old boy who shows no remorse for his crime would still be given an extremely lax sentence because of his age.
3. Mature Mental Ability Begins Much Earlier
The majority of states consider children to be adults at the age of 18. This is a very high number because teenagers have full control over their thoughts and actions. If they do not have the moral compass instilled in them by that time, then they are very likely to commit more crimes.
4. Juvenile Crime Is On The Rise
In the past few years we have had record numbers of crimes being committed by juvenile offenders. This is a scary fact because it shows how the boundaries are being more and more blurred for these young people. Many of them are aware of just how flawed the juvenile justice system is, and use that to their advantage.
5. The Right to a Trial By Jury
The juvenile courts do not have a jury, and offenders are not given a proper trial. Instead the judge makes all of the decisions, often with the help of a team of mediators for the children and their families. By allowing them to be tried as adults, you give them the ability to have a trial by jury.
Cons of Juveniles Being Tried As Adults
1. Put Young Offenders At High Risk
One of the biggest problems of a young offender being tried as an adult is the fact that they could possibly be sent to an adult correctional facility. This is a very dangerous situation, especially if they are very young. Many of these juveniles lack the maturity to handle situations such as adult prison.
2. Message of Lost Hope
By giving juveniles extremely hard sentences, it gives the impression that there is no hope for their future and no hope of them ever becoming anything but a criminal and a convict. This is damaging for all of society and especially for the young person and their family.
3. Judges Don’t Have Much Variety For Punishment
Judges in juvenile courts have the power to impose curfews, house arrest, and counseling to offenders, rather than send them to jail. Judges in adult courts have much fewer options, and usually choose the prison one.
4. More Likely To Commit More Crimes
When you put a juvenile in a situation with seasoned criminals, such as adult prison, they are still impressionable and likely end up becoming involved in gang or other crime activities. This further hinders their ability to rehabilitate after they are released.
5. Criminal Records Follow
Crimes that are on your juvenile records hold much less weight in the world than those on your adult record. By putting a juvenile into adult court, you are also effecting their adult criminal record. This will follow them all through out life, especially when trying to get a decent job.