Children or Adults: an Examination of the Juvenile Justice System

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Children or Adults: An Examination of the Juvenile Justice System

This research paper will discuss whether or not juveniles that commit violent crimes should be tried as an adult. Through research the author will establish an argument that children who commit the crimes of an adult should be punished as an adult. Empirical data detailing the number of juvenile offenders that are housed in adult prisons and jails as well as the number of prisoners serving life sentences that were earned by committing violent crimes before the age of 15 will be included in the manuscript. Finally, I suggest that children who commit crimes that are considered violent enough to even be considered for adult criminal court must in fact be tried in that very venue.

Children or Adults: An Examination of the Juvenile Justice System
In this paper I will explore current scholarly thought to determine the effectiveness of trying juveniles as adults in a court of law. In extreme instances, juveniles of a broad range of age have committed violent crimes that the criminal justice system has deemed impossible to have been committed by the accepted frame of minds of juveniles. These juveniles were then tried in adult court and sentenced accordingly.

The purpose of my research is to examine juveniles who have been tried as adults and to discuss its strengths and weaknesses. I will analyze the information that I gather and will provide a strong case that this practice is appropriate.

Literature Review
Several authors address the issues surrounding juveniles who are tried as adults (Hudson, 2009; Mason, Chapman, Chang and Simons, 2003; Nunez, Tang 2003) Hudson (2009) emphasizes that with the hope of eventual release juvenile offenders will be more inclined to better themselves and gravitate towards rehabilitation while incarcerated. Mason, Chapman, and Simon (2003) suggest that through education and training it is possible to influence the judicial system in a manner that increases the use of juvenile sanctions among youths transferred to adult court. This agrees with Hudson (2009) in the sense that juveniles exposed to sanctions such as therapy will be likely to receive lesser sentences in adult court, increasing their hope for release.

Nunez & Tang (2003) disagree with both Hudson (2009) and Mason, Chapman, & Simons (2003) with a study that shows that some jurors may lose neutrality when judging juveniles tried in adult courts thus leaving the sanctions utilized irrelevant and the length of sentences longer impeding the theory of hope presented by Hudson (2009). Kupchik (2006) reports “More than 70 people are currently are serving life without the possibility of parole sentences for crimes they committed before age 15.” (p.271) He discusses the effectiveness of subjecting juveniles to the more rigid model of criminal court instead of the less formal and more flexible structure of juvenile court in order to reduce class and race bias. Kupchik determined this was not possible because the predominant offender in both courts were Black or Latino. He concluded that the current sequential model of juvenile justice should be rejected because it is not consistent with the opinion and perspective that the general public currently holds about this issue. Houchins, Puckett-Patterson, Crosby, Shippen, and Jolivette (2009) compiled a list of barriers that prevent incarcerated youth from receiving a quality education. This study shows that these barriers are a significant factor working against juvenile offenders having a legitimate chance of staying out of the criminal justice system after being released. Lewis (1988) and Witt (2003) agreeably compared the notion of trying a juvenile in an adult court versus the alternative option of intermediate sanctions. Both agreed that while the child’s mental state may...
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