Juveniles Offenders Should Be Sentenced in Adult Courts

Research Paper Instructions

Although the original goal of the juvenile court was to care for the wayward child through therapeutic interventions, there are many individuals calling for juveniles to be treated as adult offenders. The current debate between those pushing for harsher juvenile punishment and those asking for treatment may lead to a shift in the way juveniles are processed in juvenile courts and the type of disposition or sentences they will receive.

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Using the course materials, textbook, library, and Web resources, research juvenile justice, and comment on the following statement:

  • Juvenile delinquents should be treated and sentenced like adult offenders.

Identify and discuss 4 different reasons that support your argument.

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Assignment Guidelines:

  • Research the different perspectives on juvenile justice and sentencing.
  • In 4–6 paragraphs, address the following:
    • Identify and discuss 4 different reasons that support your argument of whether or not juveniles should be treated and sentenced like adults.
      • Use research to support your argument.
  • Comment on at least 2 other students’ posts, and explain to them why they could be wrong in their analysis of juvenile justice and sentencing.

Sentencing Juveniles Offenders in Adult Courts

Thousands of children have been sentenced as adults throughout the U.S. In addition, approximately 3000 children have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Thousands of children, some who are as young as 13 years old, have been condemned to a life where they would die in prison. The courts disregard the age of the children in issuing the sentences due to the gravity of the crimes the children have committed. Various parties claim that sentencing children to life in prison without the possibility of parole is unconstitutional. Indeed, the Supreme Court banned death-in-prison sentences to children who are convicted for non-homicide crimes. Courts have to consider various life circumstances of the child before deciding on the most appropriate sentence. Parties that oppose death-in-prison sentences to children cite children’s diminished culpability and high capacity to change. They claim that other measures may be more effective than the harsh punishments.

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However, in some instances, failure to waiver the children to adult courts where they would face harsh punishments would result in a miscarriage of justice (Kurlychek & Johnson, 2004). Some of the crimes the children commit are so horrific that they should not given the chance to interact with normal, law abiding citizens.  A child who intentionally torches his house with the full knowledge that his family members are in the house should not be tried in a juvenile court. In addition, a child who takes a concealed weapon to school and randomly shoots his school mates should not be tried in a juvenile court.

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Since the inception of the juvenile justice system, various parties have argued on when it is applicable to transfer juveniles to adult courts. Currently, various states have various laws that stipulate when juveniles should be tried in adult courts. Generally, state statutes define set of crimes that warrant juveniles to be tried in adult courts. In addition, states have a mechanism for returning cases to juvenile courts whenever appropriate. Since the formation of the juvenile justice system in 1899, several heinous crimes have warranted the sentencing of juveniles in adult courts. The sharp rise in violent crimes committed by juveniles during the late 1980s and early 1990s has increased focus on the issue. During this period, the number of juveniles in adult correctional facilities increased significantly. Transfer of juveniles to adult courts automatically without the normal judicial review is one of the issues affecting juvenile justice. In addition, various parties claim that transferring juveniles to adult courts interferes with their personal development. Various parties also claim that transferring juveniles to adult courts makes them be influenced by antisocial peers in correctional facilities (Griffin, 2003).

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The increased in the rates of crimes committed by juveniles in the late 1980s and early 1990s led to the increase in the practice of automatically sentencing juveniles who commit serious crimes in adult courts. This practice helped in reducing the time it took to sentencing the juveniles. It is a fact that the judicial review that was necessary to transfer juveniles in adult courts generally took a long period to come up with a decision. In some instances, the juveniles were already adults when they were transferred to adult courts. However, various parties claimed that sentencing juveniles to adult courts automatically without the judicial review exposed them to a process where they are disadvantaged from the start. This increases their risk of receiving harsh punishments (Redding, 2003). However, there is no need of a judicial review if there is evidence that the juvenile committed a serious crime. Doing so would only be delaying justice. And as the old adage goes, ‘justice delayed is justice denied.’

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It is a fact that sentencing any individual to prison disrupts the development of the individual. As such, sentencing juveniles in adult courts increases the risk of disruptions in their personal development. It affects their identity formation and relationships. Parties that oppose sentencing of juveniles in adult courts cite this to support their views. They claim that it hinders their positive movement into adulthood. However, it is a fact that it is hard for juveniles who commit serious crimes to positively move into adulthood. Therefore, sentencing them in adult courts would have minimal impact. In fact, the reverse may be true (Redding, 2003).

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Juveniles who are sentenced in adult crimes exhibit varying levels of adjustment when they rejoin to the community. Antisocial peers in correctional facilities may influence their behavior. Their socialization may make them be prone to commit crimes in the future. Therefore, parties that oppose sentencing juveniles in adult courts has a negative impact on the well-being of the community. However, nothing can be further from the truth. It is a fact that people are more influenced by friends of the same age. Therefore, sentencing juveniles who have committed serious crimes together with other juveniles who have committed minor crimes may make them the juveniles who have committed serious crimes influence other juveniles. This increases the recidivism of juveniles. However, when they are sentenced to adult courts, they may finally realize the real repercussions of their crimes. This may make them deter from engaging in crimes in the future (Redding, 2003).

Juveniles who commit serious crimes should be tried in adult courts. However, the justice system should ensure that juveniles who commit minor offenses are sentenced in the juvenile justice system. This is due to the fact that juveniles who commit minor offenses can be more easily integrated back to the community than juveniles who commit serious crimes.

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