Juvenile Crime : The Criminal Justice System

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In the 1990s, violent juvenile crime rates had reached record high levels throughout the United States. During these years, many Americans considered the criminal justice system too easy on violent juvenile offenders and demanded reform. Many states, including Florida began to focus efforts on juvenile crime. “Florida’s criminal sentencing laws and punishment policies from 1980 to 2000 reflected an ongoing, focused effort to deter serious crimes” (Taylor). Crimes were given stricter sentencing guidelines. Serious offenses carried mandatory minimum sentences. “When it comes to kids and crime, Florida is known and the toughest state in the nation” (Clary). More juveniles are prosecuted as adults than in all other states combined. Juveniles were at the hands of these harsher adult sentences.
Juveniles cannot vote, they cannot purchase alcohol or tobacco products, they cannot sign legal documents, they cannot be out after a certain hour, they are deemed too immature to handle their own lives. Juveniles, however can be waived to adult court where they could face sanctions as harsh as life imprisonment.
In July 2003, 16 year old Terrance Jamar Graham and three other juveniles attempted to rob a restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida. Graham was arrested and charged with armed burglary with assault and or battery and attempted armed robbery. Under Florida law, 16 and 17 year olds could be tried as adults for most felony crimes at the discretion of the prosecutor. The prosecutor

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