Records show that courts with juvenile jurisdiction disposed more than 1.3 million delinquency cases in 2010. However, according to the website of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, data gathered from 1996 to 2014 shows a 65% decrease in the number of juvenile crimes committed by adolescents aged 10-17. Despite these numbers, it is still a sad reality that there are still too many adolescents who are committing crimes, including violent ones such as murder, rape, and assault. Today, some people are saying a way to make the world safer is for juveniles to be tried as adults. It is a hot issue that is making society question what could be the best solution to dealing with adolescent offenders. There are pros and cons for juveniles to be treated as adults when deciding on the punishment for their crimes. So before you give your verdict on this issue, weigh the evidence first.
List of Advantages of Juveniles Being Tried As Adults
1. It gives justice to the victims and their loved ones.
There may be some offenses that are forgive-able, but for extreme cases like murder, just punishment must be given to the offender. It is a way for a victim’s family to gain some peace or reconciliation, especially since they cannot get their loved one who was taken from them back.
2. It shows that a crime is a crime no matter your age.
Giving a lighter sentence to adolescents who committed an extreme crime just because they are not yet adults can send the wrong message that they can get away with certain things, even taking another person’s life. No matter what age someone is, they must learn to take responsibility for their actions and be made to understand the consequences of bad decisions. If teenagers are not taught right from wrong before they transition into adults, they have a higher tendency to commit more crimes.
3. It helps in lowering the number of juvenile criminals.
Adolescents who are aware that they will be punished for crimes will most likely not commit them. They can be even more discouraged to attempt any criminal activity when they find out how their peers were punished.
4. It allows a fair trial by jury.
Juvenile court cases are decided only by a judge. But if teenagers are tried as adults, there will be a jury that will help decide if they are guilty or not, so the decision doesn’t lie on one person alone.
List of Disadvantages of Juveniles Being Tried As Adults
1. It puts adolescent offenders at risk.
Adult prisons are places where juveniles can be easily abused and harmed. They can also be exposed to more crime and join gangs (which are common in adult correctional facilities), becoming even more hardened criminals.
2. It can be taken as a sign of lost hope.
Young offenders could take it as a message that they have no future and no hope of becoming something else other than a criminal. This is damaging to the juveniles and to their families.
3. It gives parents a message that they can take less responsibility.
Parents should teach their children right from wrong and should shoulder some responsibility for the actions of their kids. By sending adolescents to jail, parents can be let off the hook.
4. It limits the type of punishment.
Juvenile courts can recommend counseling, house arrest, curfews, and other forms of punishment rather than giving a jail sentence. In adult courts judges have fewer choices, and sometimes the only option to choose is prison.
Crystal Lombardo has been a staff writer for Future of Working for five years. She is a proud veteran and mother. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our editor-in-chief a message here.