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Should Children Be Tried as Adults

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Should Children Be Tried as Adults

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  • March 2011
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CJUS 230. Professor Jennifer DeBoer|
Juvenile Justice
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Should Children be Tried as Adults?|

Rick Penor
5/12/2010
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Juvenile Justice: Should children be tried as adults? Are youth capable of fully understanding the consequences that their actions may cause or are they mentally incapable of processing that information? Juveniles commit crimes just like adults. Sometimes the crimes they commit are heinous, but does that mean they are no longer a child? I believe there may be special cases when a youth should be tried as an adult, but in most cases, they need to be processed through the juvenile justice system. In the last part of the 18th century, children under the age of seven were regarded as being incapable of understanding their actions and their consequences. They were exempt from punishment. However, once a child reached the age of seven, they could be put on trial, and if found guilty, be sent to prison or even executed for their crimes. In 1825, the Society for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency was starting a movement that would separate juveniles from adult offenders. Most major cities soon had facilities that were exclusive for juvenile offenders. Unfortunately, by the mid-century, most of the private facilities were under investigation for various abuses against the juvenile inmates. Shortly thereafter, many states took on the responsibility of operating the juvenile facilities. In 1899, Cook County, Illinois established the first juvenile court with the passing of the Juvenile Court Act of 1899. The Act used the British Doctrine of “parens patriae” as the rationale of the state’s right to intervene in the lives of children. The doctrine was interpreted to mean that, because children were not of a legal capacity, the state had the inherit power and responsibility to provide protection for children whose natural parents were not providing appropriate care or supervision. The courts focused on the welfare of...

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