Q:

What are some of the pros and cons of trying juveniles as adults?

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Quick Answer

One of the arguments against trying juveniles as adults is that adult prison exposes young offenders to the negative influence of being incarcerated with older and hardened criminals. Supporters of trying juveniles as adults point out that there have been horrendous crimes committed by what have been referred to as "juvenile super predators," and that if an offender is "old enough to do the crime," then they are also "old enough to do the time." In the majority of states in the United States, juveniles can be tried as adults for serious crimes such as gang-related acts and murder.

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Full Answer

One of the arguments for trying a juvenile offender as an adult is that not doing so is unfair to the offender's victim. It implies that the crime was not serious enough and the victim is unworthy of respect. There is also the concern that the judicial system may be viewed as less punitive if juvenile offenders spend less time than adults do in jail. Some law enforcement officers also point out that they have dealt personally with juveniles who have already reached the status of hardened criminals.

Opponents of trying juveniles as adults claim that the young offenders are less culpable than adults for their actions. Because of their age, these criminals are developmentally less mature, more erratic and susceptible to the influence of negative peer group pressure. The separate juvenile court system is designed to prevent young offenders from being "schooled in crime" and preyed upon by the hardened criminals they would be exposed to in the adult criminal system.

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