- Term Papers and Free Essays

Trying Juveniles As Adults

Essay by   •  April 8, 2011  •  2,774 Words (12 Pages)  •  1,654 Views

Essay Preview: Trying Juveniles As Adults

Report this essay
Page 1 of 12

Trying Juveniles as Adults

If your son or daughter were killed by a seventeen-year-old, would you be able to accept the fact that the murderer would be walking the streets again in less than a year because the law allows those under eighteen to be tried as juveniles? Forty-four states and Washington, DC, passed several laws between 1992 and 1997 enabling the judiciary to transfer juveniles to the adult court system. Today, murders committed by adults have decreased over 18%, but murders by juveniles have increased 22%. Throughout this paper I am going to explain why many criminologists feel juveniles commit crimes, I am also going to discuss the "Three Strikes and You're Out" laws, the three ways a juvenile can end up in adult court, and why juveniles should be tried as adults. I will also incorporate the views of people who oppose trying juveniles as adults and their reasons for this. If a juvenile is old enough to commit a serious crime, then he or she is old enough to face serious consequences.

First, criminologists who deal with juveniles believe poverty, family factors, the environment, media influence, and declining social morality are the main reasons for juvenile crime. It is considered out-dated to say that poverty causes crime, but nearly 22% of children under the age of eighteen live in poverty. Disorganization, dilapidation, deterioration, and despair are all associated with social isolation and economic stress, which are two main factors of poverty (O'Connor). Police patrol through run-down, poverty-stricken areas more frequent in large cities. To the kids in these areas, this only backs up the idea that the enemy is society. Another indicator of juvenile crime is fatherless children. In the United States we see fathers as the ones who provide economic stability, act as role models, and alleviate the stress of mothers. Without a father, many young men have no one to turn to as a role model. About 50% of marriages in the US end in divorce. Whether the child grows up without a father or there is a divorce during his childhood and one parent remarries, negative outcomes can still come from this for the child. In fact, there is more evidence supportive of the hypothesis that a stepparent in the home increases delinquency, or that abuse and neglect in fully-intact families leads to a cycle of violence. Another factor said to be associated with juvenile crime is the environment. There seems to be a growing trend for teens and even some adults to resolve conflicts and satisfy needs. Brute, coercive force has become an acceptable and even preferred method:

Think of it as the schoolyard bully who says "Meet me in the parking lot at 4:30." Under circumstances like these, the peer pressure and reward system are so arranged that fighting seems like the only way out. Now think for a moment about the crucial importance of peer groups: whether there are people who would respect you for standing up to fight, or whether there are people important to you that would definitely not approve of your fighting. What environmental learning theorists are saying is that there are fewer and fewer friends available to help you see the error of your ways in deciding to fight (O'Connor.)

"Three Strikes and You're Out"

"Three strikes laws are a category of statutes (laws) enacted by the state governments in the United States, beginning in the 1990s, to mandate long periods of imprisonment for persons convicted of [committing] a felony on three (or more) separate occasions" (Wikipedia). The basic idea and goal of these laws is if a person commits more than two felonies, and it can be proven that he or she is a habitual and incurable criminal, then permanent imprisonment is necessary for public safety. Every one of the fifty states, including the District of Columbia, has adopted the Three Strikes law or some variation of it. The California Supreme Court has even passed the "Three Strikes and You're Out" law for juveniles. Since this law has been passed, states have changed their laws too. North Carolina and Oklahoma have lowered the age limit at which juveniles can be tried as adults to thirteen. Tennessee has removed the age limit for juveniles accused of certain serious and violent crimes. Florida has even changed its stated priority, for juvenile offenders older than thirteen who commit serious crimes, from "best interests of the child" to "public safety."

Judicial Waiver, Direct File, or Statutory Exclusion

The most common way of sending a juvenile to adult court is through a judicial waiver. The power for a judicial waiver usually rests with the juvenile court judge who looks at many factors before making his decision. How serious was the offense? How old is the youth? What is their mental and physical maturity? What is the youth's previous record and history with the court? What is the juvenile's mental and physical maturity? How serious was the offense? Was it committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated or willful manner? What current public safety risk does the youth present? What have been the previous attempts at rehabilitation and how did the youth respond? Is there a program or facility available that could assure public safety while also offering treatment? There are three types of waivers: discretionary, mandatory, and presumptive. A discretionary waiver is the ability of the juvenile court judge to waive jurisdiction and transfer the case to adult court. A mandatory waiver is the ability of the juvenile court judge to send the case to adult court if probable cause exists that the juvenile committed the crime. A presumptive waiver requires certain juvenile offenders to be sent to adult court unless they can prove that they can be rehabilitated in a juvenile center.

Direct file is like a judicial waiver, except the prosecutor has the power to send the case to adult court rather than the court judge. Since 1981, when Florida first adopted direct file, fifteen states have this option in cases. People in favor of direct file say that automatically sending certain youth into the adult system speeds up the process by eliminating costly and time-consuming judicial hearings. Another reason for bypassing the juvenile judge has been to ensure that serious, habitual offenders are given longer terms and more severe punishment than is assumed to be available in the juvenile system. Also, eliminating a lengthy hearing process can save both time and limited juvenile court resources--resources that could be better put to use for low-level and first-time offenders who stand a better chance of being rehabilitated.

Statutory Exclusion laws are most commonly



Download as:   txt (16.1 Kb)   pdf (169.8 Kb)   docx (14.3 Kb)  
Continue for 11 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2011, 04). Trying Juveniles As Adults. Retrieved 04, 2011, from

"Trying Juveniles As Adults" 04 2011. 2011. 04 2011 <>.

"Trying Juveniles As Adults.", 04 2011. Web. 04 2011. <>.

"Trying Juveniles As Adults." 04, 2011. Accessed 04, 2011.