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Juvenile suspects are only sometimes convicted in adult court. Despite the severity of the incident, several activists oppose charging minors as adults. The juvenile court handles the vast majority of offenses committed by young adults, including minor theft and violent offenses. There is a distinction between the adult and criminal programs since the juvenile system has an outlet for underage adult inmates to be redeemed and forgiven (Stimson). Juveniles have rehabilitation for minors.
However, certain juveniles commit heinous offenses, and the criminal justice system cannot be used to punish them. There are crimes that demonstrate the maturity of the offenders and hence are proportional to a conviction in the adult courts. Sarah Johnson a 16-year-old was arraigned for a plot to kill her mother and father and intent to pin it on an intruder (Stimson). She was charged in an adult court and issued a life sentence. For the provision of punishments that are appropriate is the process of the transfer of cases from the juvenile to adult courts. In several states, judges make decisions for the requirements of transfer. Alternately, there are other states where the transfer is automatic due to specific crimes mostly cases of murder.
In 2001 Nathaniel who was 14 years was convicted of a second-degree murder after murdering his teacher of English. The charge in normal circumstances was to take 30 years. However, Governor Jeb Bush iterated that there the judges should be sensitive to her not being an adult. In Florida, Lionel Tate received a life sentence for applying wrestling tactics and murdering another younger girl (Reaves). She was imprisoned without parole. The decline in crimes by minors has led to the question of whether the potential criminals are thinking carefully before perpetrating crime due to the presence of adult sentencing.
Further, by the year 2001, all states except five allowed for adult trials to murder cases by young adults. For the defendants below 16 years, the death penalty was not applicable. The Supreme Court of the U.S. ruled it unconstitutional for capital punishments to individuals who have not attained 16 years. Some states, however, consider the death penalties on individuals between 16 and 17 years (khan). The results after adverse crimes have been committed are detrimental irrespective of the perpetrator. The American Justice system is responsible for bringing the perpetrators of criminal activity to book.
Cameron Williams at 16 years of age has been incarcerated and faces a jail time averaging 110 years for the attempted killing of second degree and the incorporation of a weapon for felony. In Omaha, Williams was pulled over by a police officer in the company of two other men but he began to run and later shot at the officer. Subsequently, he had charges of assault and robbery in a different county. Due to the adverse nature of his criminal history, he received charges in an adult court.
The attorney of the court iterated that any individual that aims a gun at a police officer is a threat to the safety of the society (khan). The chief deputy described William as a being very dangerous. William is an example of the young people facing a potential life imprisonment and solid evidence that could be incorporated in the debate over whether juveniles can be tried similarly to adults.
Juveniles according to the Justice Department conduct an estimated 10% of all the homicide crimes committed in the United States (khan). The individuals are below 18 years of age (khan). The FBI undertakes arrests averaging to 33,000 annually of criminals under 18 years for various offenses. However, statistics show that between 1990 and 2003 there was a significant decline in the number of crimes violently committed by minors. The “Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency” shows that after 2003 the crimes significantly increased by 30% with majority of being murder offenses.
Elizabeth, a judge of the juvenile system sites there is a rapidly increasing violence trend by the minors. She elaborates that in the society and most communities there in increased young individuals being engaged in serious and dangerous behaviors (khan). She iterates that both citizens and prosecutors have more preference in the young adults being prosecuted as adults instead of the juvenile system of justice.
Most states from 1990 had an expansion of their rules to have more minors to be charged in adult courts. In 2010 the Supreme Court made a ruling softening juvenile sentences. The decision cited that the juvenile perpetrators that are not murder offenders could not be issued life sentences without parole (khan). The United States was the sole nation globally applying the rule before the Supreme Court decision. Scholars against minors being tried as adults argue that they should be considered for the maturity and psychological developments.
Also, there is increased criminal activity with minors being involved in adverse actions like first-degree murder by a 12-year-old who murdered his stepfather and mother. Another case involved Eric Ramirez that was charged with a spree murder of many people in 2008 (Reaves). The above violent criminal activities lead to the minors being charged as adults and hence face a lot of jail time. William’s attorney elaborated that it would be difficult to determine the future doings of William.
Most juvenile courts have major focus on rehabilitative practices, unlike normal prisons and jails where the criminal offenders are subjected to incarceration and sentences that are harsh. Currently, all juvenile perpetrators that have criminal histories through the American justice system are subjected to adult courts (Reaves). In addition, if the young adult's offense is characterized by murder, rape, and other violent acts then they are tried in the adult courts.
In San Diego County, the increase in the number of juvenile offenders led to the county’s bid to seek funds for the development of an additional juvenile jail. The County’s grant application was an estimated $36 million for a juvenile facility of detention in East Mesa housing 300 beds (Moran). Subsequently, the county projected that the situation could worsen and the county would require an estimated 13,000 beds for the juvenile perpetrators by 2015.
However, currently, there is more space available in the juvenile in that has led to the shuttering of two halls of the juvenile jail since there are not many offenders. The number of individuals in the system in comparison to the previous estimates is only a fraction. The number of juvenile offenders per day in 2015 was an average 445 individuals that are way less than the predicted 13,000 spaces. Most counties in the country inclusive of San Diego have witnessed a decrease in criminal activity by young adults since the year 2000 (Moran). The measurement of the decline is through the rates of arrests and the number of supervised youths under probation in the county adding to the number of individuals in the juvenile system.
From the year 2012 to 2016 there was a decrease in the number of minors under probation by the county department by an average 40 percent. The rate of arrests was 53 percent less between 2011 and 2015 according to the San Diego government association. Similarly, in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County there was a decrease of 58, 54 and 55 percent in the same time period. The population in the juvenile hall of San Diego from 2012 plummeted by 48% (Moran). The county’s data showed that the juvenile jails had a population of less than half.
The decline is attributed to the changes in the handling of the cases of young adults' criminals. In the late 20th century, most juvenile systems had lowered the age for the minors to be tried similar to adults and most youths were locked up for minor offenses (Moran). However, in the early 21st century the systems changed to embrace early intervention, assessments of the risks posed by the youths and more rehabilitative approaches that characterize the decline in juvenile crime.
The state of California devised a new approach through a series of new legislation with the realignment of the juvenile bill as one of the primaries. The bill developed a new mandate that the minors convicted of crimes that were not violent were not to be sent to the juvenile jails. The counties were to take responsibilities of the individuals (Moran). The state issued the counties funding through grants for the expenditures in the juvenile system. In San Diego, the grant was deployed in several social programs that issue alternatives to the juvenile lockup system.
Once officers arrest a juvenile they are immediately referred to the alternative programs to custody. In a case where the individual is taken into the juvenile system, the probation officials undertake another assessment and could refer the individual to a community program (Moran). The assessment of the risks is undertaken using available tools that guide through the development of a supervision program, and management of the case and hence the minors who pose low risks are taken to the community programs.
Carlos, a minor offender who was causing troubles at home was sent to a foster care foster family system developed by the county instead of being detained in the juvenile prison (Moran). The alternative system of South Bay include Carlos being taken to and from school, he was given a case manager together with a therapist and was required to work at the group offices daily in Chula Vista. After two months he was getting along with his family and had improved schoolwork with a positive mindset.
Most sentences of the Juvenile system surmount to nothing for the minor offenders. The system is not solely able to provide an individual attention that was to help the sentenced offenders during and after they serve time. The laws previously developed were meant for the shoplifters, vandalism, and truancy. However, those laws were rendered irrelevant, as minors increasingly were involved in violent criminal activities (Estudillo). Rehabilitation has minimal impacts on the youth due to how they are handled in the centers of rehabilitation. The counselors are not experienced and do not know the best methods to handle the violent crime children.
Some of the young adults perpetrate to committing crimes since they are aware they will not be tried in the adult courts. Most of the perpetrators who go through juvenile end up not being rehabilitated and hence they are involved in criminal activities when they leave (Estudillo). The society is left with an increasing number of victims of crime due to the high delinquents’ percentage. Children kill their peers and end up not receiving the punishments they deserve.
The families of the victims of murder, rape, and other crimes are abandoned within the criminal juvenile system without protection and closure. Some victims are left with permanent scars of non-acknowledgment. The leniency of the system does not honor the victim’s memory when they do not punish the perpetrator. The trying of the children as adults leads to the toughening of the system and an individual is held responsible for their criminal acts. They should learn that they are culpable for their bad behaviors if the system wants to deter delinquents in the future from criminal activities (Estudillo). Showing that the country and states do not condone crimes instills in children the fear of doing crimes. The harsh criminal sentences make an impact on other children deterring them from perpetrating to undertake criminal activity.
Up to 40 states since 1993 have assented laws that make it easier for children to be tried in adult courts. The legislation and policies should not be viewed as a war against children but as a perspective on the immeasurable human life loss, wasting resources and personal security. In the state of a California 2001, the Proposition 21 was a legislation meant to stiffen the penalties issued to the young adults. It sparked opposition and differences but was later passed to law (Estudillo). Youths are not characterized as adults but their capability of committing crime is a fact. The then Governor Pete Wilson cited that a crime done by a young minor 16 years of age is not different from that done by an old man of 60 years.
Estudillo, Mary. "Juveniles Should Be Tried As Adults In Certain Circumstances." (2008): n. pag. Web. 18 Oct. 2017.
khan, Huma. "What's Too Young For Life In Prison?." ABC News. N.p., 2010. Web. 18 Oct. 2017.
Moran, Greg. "Juvenile Crime Rates Plummet amid New Approaches To Tackling Youth Crime." sandiegouniontribune.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 18 Oct. 2017.
Reaves, Jessica. "Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews - TIME.Com." TIME.com. N.p., 2001. Web. 18 Oct. 2017.
Stimson, Charles. "Adult Punishments For Juveniles - Nytimes.Com." Nytimes.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 18 Oct. 2017.
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