Ethical Considerations of Juvenile Transfer to Adult Court

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Jaimie Hutchinson

Ethical Considerations of Juvenile Transfer to Adult Court

In partial fulfillment of the requirements for (CMRJ 500)

March 21, 2011

Juveniles in the criminal justice system are a special population. Throughout history juveniles have been looked at as needing to be protected from the harsh realities that face adults daily. The juvenile justice system has primarily operated in a parens patriae capacity and protected the rights of those that were legally incapable of protecting themselves such as minor children and the mentally ill. From 1987-1993 the juvenile homicide rate doubled causing critics and conservatives to questions the approach of the juvenile justice community calling it ‘soft on crime’ Steiner & Wright, (2006). There are strong arguments on both sides of the debate regarding placement of juveniles into the adult criminal justice system. When looking at the issues surrounding juvenile waiver policy it is helpful to remember that young minds can still be molded, and transformations can be easier to achieve with young minds than with adult minds. Due to this idea, and the fact that the juvenile justice system has historically been geared towards rehabilitation rather than punishment, therapy rather than retribution should be foremost in the minds of people involved in juvenile waiver processing and policy making. In the following pages the issues surrounding juvenile waiver will be analyzed from an ethical standpoint. Issues with subjects such as restorative justice, deterrence, conservative arguments, liberal arguments, super predators, flaws in the system, and an informed conclusion based upon what the studies imply about the effect of juvenile waiver on our youth.

Keywords: Juvenile waiver, Juveniles in adult court, Juveniles in prisons

Table of Contents
Literature review 5
Conclusion 11
References 13


Court officials must do a balancing act when dealing with adjudicated juveniles dispositions. The interests of public safety need to be balanced with the needs of the youth when making decisions about which level of constraint is required in regards to juvenile dispositions. There is a considerable amount of argument about whether juveniles should be subject to the adult criminal justice system. This is to say that a juvenile who has committed a violent person offence cannot necessarily be put out in the community on probation and in many people’s opinion they should be punished more severely. For the safety of the public the juvenile in this case must be incarcerated or put into an institution. Are we really doing the juvenile involved justice by going as far as putting him in an adult institution though? Are there less restrictive ways to insure the safety of the public while still taking the juveniles needs into consideration? Less restrictive ways that would rehabilitate the juvenile rather than label him as delinquent or a lost cause and put him in prison have always been supported by the juvenile system. The juvenile justice system is, and has for the most part been geared towards rehabilitation of the offenders. This is due to the age of the offender and the fact that the juvenile, in most cases, will be released someday. For this reason, it is in our best interests to advocate for successful reintegration programs for juveniles, rather than harsher sentencing. Juvenile justice is a very important subfield of criminal justice. Many in the criminal justice field view deterrence at the juvenile level, from future criminal ideations, as the answer to much of the crime problem. If this tenet is followed then it makes sense to try to deter the unlawful behavior in juveniles before they turn into the next population of adult convicts. Many say that the answer is to give juvenile offenders harsher penalties including the use of adult sanctioning and more punitive...
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