12 to life

New York Time's editorial for July 27 online and July 28 in print expresses concern for the children caught in the adult court machinery.
[States] have continued to mete out barbaric treatment - including life sentences - to children whose cases should rightly be handled through the juvenile courts.
Suggesting Congress should correct these states' practices by amending the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, NYT mentions a new study by Michele Deitch, of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin:
According to the study, every state allows juveniles to be tried as adults, and more than 20 states permit preadolescent children as young as 7 to be tried in adult courts.
The study reports such alarming findings as:
  • Policy makers lack reliable data on the numbers of children "shunted into the adult system by state statutes or prosecutors."
  • Children 13 and under who commit crimes like burglary and theft are just as likely to be sent to adult courts as children who commit serious acts of violence against people.
  • Transferring juveniles to the adult system is counter-productive as a strategy for preventing or reducing violence.
  • Juveniles held in adult facilities are five times as likely to be victims of sexual abuse and rape as youth kept in the juvenile system.
  • Children under age 14 are as poorly prepared to participate in their trials as adults with severe mental illness.
The study concludes offering ten policy changes, among which include:
  • Keep young children in the juvenile justice system.
  • Disallow mandatory sentencing of young children in adult criminal court.
  • Always provide an opportunity for parole for young children transferred to the adult criminal justice system.
  • Young children in the adult criminal justice system should be housed in juvenile facilities.
  • Improve data collection on young children in the adult criminal justice system.

From Time Out to Hard Time: Young Children in the Adult Criminal Justice System
(pdf/134 pp, 1.1 MB) Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, July 2009

Executive summary (pdf/4pp, 228kB)

LBJ School Alumni Discuss Work: Survey of Statutes of 50 States Began as Supreme Court Certiorari Petition (html)

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home