Juvenile Offenders

A discussion of whether juvenile offenders should be tried as adults.

This paper examines, through a literature review, the issue of whether juvenile offenders should be punished in the same way as adults in light of the increase of crimes involving juvenile offenders and also the level of violence associated with such crimes. In response to the perceived skyrocketing in juvenile crime, states throughout the country have passed a variety of measures to send more juvenile offenders to criminal court. Historically our criminal justice system has encouraged law enforcement officials and prosecutors to focus on rehabilitation when it comes to juvenile offenders since law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and researchers believed that youths often make mistakes and are more able to learn and re-train their behavior than adult offenders who are often more jaded and violent. It evaluates how the decision to prosecute a juvenile offender as an adult has momentous consequences for the individual involved, with the juvenile offender frequently being confined with the general adult inmate population, arguably increasing the likelihood of recidivism since the juvenile offender will be exposed to “new” crimes as well as techniques for avoiding punishment.
“There is a large array of literature concerning juvenile offenders and the issue of whether juveniles should be tried as adults. Presently there are three possible mechanisms used to allow juvenile offenders to be tried as adults. Judicial waiver involves a juvenile court judge transferring an adolescent to criminal court based on, among other things, the seriousness of the crime, the offender’s history, and the chances of the offender repeating his or her act. (Steinberg). Direct file policies allow the prosecutor to decide whether to file charges against a juvenile offender in criminal or juvenile court. (Steinberg). Finally, under statutory exclusion, certain categories of juveniles are automatically tried in adult criminal court. (Steinberg). Statutory exclusion is generally determined by a combination of age and the seriousness of the offense. (Steinberg).”