Should Juveniles Be Tried as Adults? While young people must be held accountable for serious crimes, the juvenile justice system exists for precisely that purpose.
Email When Philip Chism, the year-old Danvers High School student accused of murdering his math teacherreturns to court later this month, he'll be treated as an adult. But that wasn't always the law. Untilyear-old murder suspects were handled in juvenile court with rare exception.
Dohan, who has represented juveniles since the late s, feels it's possible to rehabilitate most kids, even those who commit murder. People were suddenly very fearful and they thought this trend was going to continue," said Naoka Carey, who heads an advocacy group called Citizens for Juvenile Justice.
The following year a new law was put on the books in Massachusetts. It spelled out that anyone 14 and older accused of murder would be tried as an adult. No discretion from prosecutors or the judge.
The mantra was "adult time for adult crime. For murder, it's life without parole. Carey says that's extreme. It is different to be a or year-old than a year-old. There's more risk taking. They don't delay like adults, they don't stop and think, literally," said Thomas Grisso, a professor of psychiatry at UMass Medical School and a leading researcher on adolescent development.
Grisso says there are two unique things happening in the brain at the same time that make teens more susceptible to recklessness. First, there's a surge of activity in the emotional area of the brain.
Then last summer, the U. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory sentences of life without parole for teens was unconstitutional. That decision poses a problem for Massachusettswhere automatic guidelines call for life without parole.
The state's Supreme Judicial Court is now reviewing a number of teen murder cases. It's unclear what Massachusetts is going to do in order to comply with federal law. Whatever the state decides, Michael O'Keefe, president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association and district attorney for the Cape and Islands, doesn't want to lose the ability to charge kids as adults for murder.
He wants to have the flexibility to try kids even younger than 14 for murder as adults. Should a year-old accused of murdering his teacher be tried as an adult, without question?
For now, that's the law in Massachusetts.
This program aired on November 5, Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the conservative Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, said the vast majority of teenagers, even young ones, know enough to be tried in adult court. ''The notion that teenagers are not capable of understanding what is going on I find not credible in the case of mentally normal teenagers,'' he said.
Lastly, the previously mentioned point directly segues to the last reason why juveniles should not be tried as adults: parents may also be to blame.
For instance, in December , year-old Jacob Ind had murdered his mother and stepfather after years of abuse. Should Juveniles Be Tried as Adults?
Jan 8, Reprinted from the Sunday, January 7, edition of The Tennessean Juveniles are not adults, and saying so doesn’t make it so. Besides, we don’t really mean it: When we try them in criminal court, we don’t deem them adults for other purposes, such as voting and drinking.
And if they do, they know they have a good chance of getting off because they are tried as teens and not adults. We have to get tougher on crime. There should be a law that everyone over eleven years old will be tried as adults. That way more teens would be discouraged from committing crimes.
Teenagers are not adults; therefore, they should not be tried as adults.
The main reason prosecutors move to try teens as adults is to secure a harsher sentence. This is a symptom of a larger problem in that prisons do no treat and rehabilitate inmates. Lastly, the previously mentioned point directly segues to the last reason why juveniles should not be tried as adults: parents may also be to blame.
For instance, in December , year-old Jacob Ind had murdered his mother and stepfather after years of abuse.