Don't Treat Juvenile Offenders As Adults

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Prior to 1899, in the United States, child offenders over the age of seven were imprisoned in the same facilities as adult offenders. As a result of political and social reformers, society’s views on juvenile justice began to shift to a more sympathetic view. Beginning in 1899, individual states began to address the youth incarceration problem by establishing youth reform homes, the predecessor to juvenile dentition centers. The objective of these homes was the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders for their re-entry into society and for the greater good. However, in recent years, many have argued that juveniles charged with violent felonies ought to be treated as adults; while others argue its antithesis. In 2005, Kirk Gunderson (17) committed suicide while incarcerated in an adult jail. His mother, Vicky Gunderson, explained to a researcher on youth justice how her son was sexually assaulted and involved in physical confrontations. He was placed in confinement where he was left for two and a-half hours by himself. Once the guards came back, Kirk was found dead hanging by a blanket from a smoke detector. It is upsetting to many to read cases like Kirk’s but it poses a question; could this act of violence been avoided?

This essay seeks to demonstrate that juveniles, persons who have not reached the age at which one should be treated as an adult by the criminal justice system (16 in NYS), charged with violent felonies, a series of unlawful crime punishable by imprisonment from more than one year to death (murder, rape, arson, and burglary), ought not to be treated as adults in the criminal justice system because this will lead to more acts of violence against juvenile offenders by both adult offenders and themselves. Three argume...

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Klein Eric, JD at Georgetown University Center of Law, Dennis the Menace or Billy the Kid: An Analysis of the Role of Transfer to Criminal Court in Juvenile Justice, American Criminal Law Review, winter 1998, p.ln//gp3

The New York Times. "Throwing Away Young People: Prison Suicide -" Editorials - Opinion - The Board Blog - 21 Nov. 2007. Web. 03 Apr. 2011. .
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