In the recent landmark case of Roper v Simmons, the US Supreme Court declared and upheld by a 5-4 decision that the death penalty cannot be awarded to individuals less than 18 years old at the time that their crime was committed. The justices declared that applying the death penalty to juvenile offenders, regardless of their crime or offense, was cruel and unusual punishment by virtue of the offender's status as a minor or juvenile ".whose culpability or blameworthiness is diminished, to a substantial degree, by reason of youth and immaturity"…
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The court reiterated that juveniles by virtue of their age and immaturity have less culpability than adult offenders of the same crime and their punishment should be mitigated by this diminished culpability.
This notion of diminished culpability and immaturity which gave rise to the court's decision in the above case echoes the very rationale behind the juvenile justice system in the country. In most cases of juvenile crimes, juvenile offenders are tried and sentenced in juvenile courts which provide for softer sentences such as probation in a juvenile center, and are exempted from the penitentiary system applied to adult offenders. In our juvenile justice system, punishment for juvenile offenders is largely focused on rehabilitation rather than retribution. The general logic is that, since the offender is still young, he is still very susceptible to reform and thus he must be given greater opportunity to reform and rehabilitate himself. In general, juvenile offenders may be confined in juvenile centers until the age of 21, after which they are released. In many cases, the juvenile offender may even be allowed to expunge his criminal record.
This long-accepted practice of providing special treatment for juvenile offenders, however, has its own share of exceptions. As in the case of Simmons above who was convicted of murder in a criminal court, several cases involving juvenile offenders have been extended into the jurisdiction of the regular criminal courts. Legal mechanisms provide for exceptions to the general rule that places juvenile offenders beyond the scope of the criminal courts. In recent years, new legislation in many states has provided for a rise in the number of such exceptions, and more juvenile offenders now face adult sanctions awarded by criminal courts.
Mechanisms of Juvenile Transfer.
The trend of placing juvenile offenders in the jurisdiction of adult criminal courts distinguished from regular juvenile courts has been in place even before the 1920s with a number of states already allowing for it back then. Since then, a larger number of states have added to the list of states allowing such transfers, and many have even extended the range of these transfers. Juvenile transfer legislation has increased even more dramatically in the past twenty years as the incidence of juvenile violence also spiked.( ojjdp.ncjrs.org) As of now, all states have at least one transfer mechanism in their legislation which allow for juvenile offenders to face trial and sentencing by jury in adult criminal courts. (Snyder 112). The transfer mechanisms legislated in these states may loosely be segregated into three main forms: judicial waiver, direct-file, and statutory exclusion.(ojjdp.ncjrs.org)
Judicial waiver, the most common and oldest in practice among these three mechanisms, provides juvenile court judges the discretion to waive their jurisdiction over the juvenile offender. Juvenile offenders facing trial in the juvenile court may be transferred to the jurisdictio
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Juvenile facilities consist of both private and public correctional facilities. Statistics show that the facilities are likely to have a complex mixture of people with children who might have been accused of something to proven delinquents. The private facilities contain more status offenders than public facilities but both have the same proportion of delinquents.
Juveniles lack the mental capacity to control emotions and form intent while committing crimes. This practice is inhumane and violates the basic rights of children. Sentencing juveniles like adults increases the chances of repeated and more serious crimes.
The justice process of juvenile is based on the rational that the developmental process of the juveniles is quite different from that of adults and their behavior can be altered over a certain amount of time period. Due to this, the juvenile justice system treats this section of the society with the aim of rehabilitating them and providing them protection with the assistance of community.
Juvenile delinquency emerged several decades away, and brought about the reality that adolescents could commit serious offenses such as murder and robbery with violence. Although the increase in juvenile delinquency reflected negatively on the morality of the society, it placed the justice system in a dilemma.
These states have established that juveniles cannot be considered as criminals as they are not committing crimes and their criminal like deviant acts are categorized as delinquent acts. In case a juvenile conducts a delinquent act, he/she first goes through the process of adjudication hearing and in this hearing the judge is responsible to identify whether the child has committed a delinquent act or not.
However, society does not see it fit that individuals under the age of 18 years old be prosecuted in criminal courts because of perceived inability and immaturity to appreciate the legal system. Adult courts are also seen to cause traumatic experiences for a young individual.
differ in their punishments and their ideas of who gets punished and who does not, and I would like to know why some judges make the decisions that they do, while other judges and court systems opt for something else for their offenders. I also want to know why these decisions
?? Marquise Elkins’s murder case, the defense counsel argued that the 17-year-old suspect was too young to face the death penalty under Georgia law after the jury convicted the juvenile of murder at that age (“Associated Press” 1). Indeed, in most cases the defense of the
According to the justice system of the United States, a person described a juvenile delinquent when he is under 17 years of age and takes part in a criminal activity that would warrant him being charged as an adult.
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