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Juveniles being adjudicated (tried) as adults - Essay Example

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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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Juveniles being adjudicated (tried) as adults
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Download file to see previous pages 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 ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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