Children Sentenced as Adults

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More than 200,000 children are prosecuted in adult courts each year. All 50 states can prosecute a child, under the age of 16 years old, as an adult (Young & Gainsborough, 2000). Between 1992 and 1997, forty two states and the District of Columbia enacted legislation to enable juvenile offenders to be transferred to adult prisons (Young & Gainsborough, 2000). Missouri and Indiana lowered the minimum age for transfer to an adult facility from 16 years of age to the incredibly young age of ten (Flesch, 2004). Twenty two states and the District of Columbia no longer require a minimum age for a child to be transferred to an adult prison (Stein, 1997). A high percentage of children in adult criminal facilities are mentally, physically and sexually abused, creating a more violent adult offender; therefore, juveniles should not be imprisoned with adults. Many of the offenders transferred to adult prison facilities are non-violent offenders who pose minimal risk to society. They are transferred to adult prisons because they are habitual offenders (Smith, 2002). While in the adult facility, juveniles tend to become more serious offenders. This is because non-violent juvenile offenders can be housed with violent adult offenders, leaving the child absolutely defenseless. Juveniles are five times more likely to be victimized in this type of facility. They are twice as likely to be beaten by the prison staff and 50 times more likely to be assault with a weapon in the adult prison system (Elias, 2006). This may explain why juveniles sentenced to adult facilities have a higher risk of having substances abuse, anger management and mental health problems when they are released from prison.

In 1995, at the age of 16, Rodney Hulin Jr. was charged with arson. No one was injured by his actions; although there was quite a bit of property damage. After admitting his involvement in the offense, 16 year old Rodney was sentenced to eight years in an adult prison.

Rodney spent his...
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