Have you ever heard on the news about a juvenile committing a violent crime, and you felt they received an unjust punishment? Transferring juveniles to adult court for violent crimes has been happening for many years. This process is meant to allow the courts to give out punishments that are fit for the crime committed, not the age of the offender. The laws vary from state to state, at one point, most states agreed that to try a juvenile in adult court they must have a criminal record or have committed an unforgiving crime such as murder. Handing down an adult sentence to a violent juvenile offender, can mean a harsher punishment, a lower rate of reoffending and determent from criminal activity by other juveniles, however some believe it leads to lack of proper rehabilitation for the offender.
First, the most popular reason people seem to want to see juveniles tried as adults is to ensure they get a harsher punishment than the juvenile courts would enforce. "Juvenile waiver became popular as a result of society believing that the juvenile court was not equipped to handle serious youthful offenders" (Jordan, 2006, p. 31). The main point I hear people make, is that the criminals need longer incarceration time than the juvenile courts enforce. "In New York, virtually all children sentenced as juvenile offenders in adult court, with the exception of those convicted of murder, will return to society by the age of 21" (Corriero, 2006, p. 46). A common point made by society in general is, they should receive an adult sentence for an adult crime. Consider any cases you have heard that include a violent crime committed by a juvenile, examples would be armed robbery, battery or armed burglary. Ask yourself, should the child who committed this crime be tried in juvenile court and possibly get probation and counseling as a first offender? Should they be tried as an adult where they are more likely to serve time behind bars, and have time to think about what they did and why they should not do it again? Some may think this is a hard question to analyze, I believe firmly that anyone who can cause bodily harm to another human being or threaten someone at gun point should be treated as an adult in the court system. "At the turn of the 20th century, our juvenile justice process reflected a concept of childhood based on the notion that children are innocent, vulnerable, dependent, and incapable of making mature reasoned decisions" (Corriero, 2006, p. 4). In this situation I have to disagree, whether it is taught by parents or schools every child knows that violence is not accepted by the law. I am sure we all remember what it was like to be an adolescent, and I am sure we can agree that the generalization that all children are incapable of making mature decisions is incorrect. The point that many anti-waiver activists are trying to make known is, that the very reason people want the juvenile offender to be tried as an adult is not the realistic outcome in the end. Do juveniles tried as adults really end up serving longer sentences than if they had been sentenced in juvenile court?