Prosecuting Juveniles As Adults in The Criminal Justice System

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The word most frequently used to describe the growth in the rate of violent crime among children 17 years old and younger is epidemic. The alarming rate at which children are committing crimes has increased the amount of questions on what should be done with these juveniles. The National Center for Juvenile Justice states how “Every state but Hawaii now allows juveniles to be tried as adults for certain crimes,” so why are people struggling with laws allowing young offenders to be tried as adults? (Juvenile Justice) They are children, and the lack of maturity and brain development can produce risky, impulsive behavior, and should be treated rather than persecuted and written off. In the law, a juvenile is defined as a person who is …show more content…
The juvenile court’s responses to crimes are generally more lenient than the adult court response. Juvenile court proceedings are held in private, whereas adult court proceedings are public affairs. Also, the offense committed and the punishment is the focus of adult courts, whereas juvenile courts focus on the child, and helping them through rehabilitation, supervision, and treatment (Allen). Harry Allen describes in his book how, “Adult courts may deprive adults of their liberty only for the violation of criminal laws, and juvenile courts are empowered to control and confine juveniles based on a broad range of behavior and circumstances” (Allen).
One issue is determining whether children have the capacity to commit such gruesome crimes. How does a child even know how to murder someone, or rape a person? Many children show early signs of being capable of committing future violent crimes. However the American Psychology Association reports that “…the part of the brain that is responsible for good judgment and the control of impulses—the pre-frontal cortex—is still immature; consequently, children of this age-period, don’t have yet the capacity to fully control their impulses” (Goldman).
In adolescence, the brain still has much capacity for growth, and may indicate that troubled teenagers can still learn restraint, judgment, and empathy (Glueck). Adolescence is a time of great change in the brain.
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