Innocence Lost Researched Argument Essay

2945 words - 12 pages

WR 121
5 Dec 2015

“When we try children in adult courts, we do so as a result of flawed reasoning, penalizing them for not exercising that degree of judgment that we expect of adults” (Corriero 3).

In the age of legal and judicial reform, several laws are being changed (and some have already been changed) for the purpose of bettering our society and lowering the excessive rates of mass incarceration. There is still a long road ahead of us but I believe – and this paper will show – that changing the way juveniles are adjudicated in America is an important step in the right direction. The juvenile justice system was designed and implemented for juvenile offenders, ...view middle of the document...

S. Department of Justice, Trying Juveniles as Adults: An Analysis of State Transfer Laws and Reporting – henceforth, will be referred to as “Dept. Justice, Trying Juveniles”).
In 1978, Willie Bosket was 15 years old when he shot and killed two men and wounded another on a subway in New York City; he was subsequently sentenced to five years detention in a juvenile facility (Hager). The news media and much of the public were outraged and felt that the sentence was inadequate in proportion to the crime (Hager). Many news publications publicized the case and criticized the New York Juvenile Justice Department for being ineffective and lenient on Bosket (Hager). In an immediate and public response to Bosket’s sentence and the negative publicity towards the juvenile justice system, Carey and his legislative team put the Juvenile Offender Act of 1978 into effect (Hager). The act effectively legalized and generalized transferring entire groups of juvenile cases to adult courts, and soon many other states followed suit in quick succession. By the late 1990's, every state in the U.S. had passed similar laws, with the most legislative changes being made between the 1980’s and 1990’s, during the “super predator scare” (Hager).
Current Laws. In Oregon, the judicial waiver laws allow for discretionary transfer. A discretionary transfer happens when a juvenile court waives jurisdiction over a juvenile (Dept. Justice, Trying Juveniles). There is a process to the discretionary transfer; a formal hearing is held and then at the presiding judge’s discretion, the juvenile may be transferred to criminal court (Dept. Justice, Trying Juveniles). There are also laws regarding statutory exclusion; statutory exclusion dictates that certain crimes committed by juveniles are excluded from jurisdiction within the juvenile court system (Dept. Justice, Trying Juveniles). Like most states, Oregon has the “Once adult/always adult” law that requires any juvenile previously prosecuted in criminal court to be ineligible for juvenile court jurisdiction for any offense (Dept. Justice, Trying Juveniles). There are a considerable number of people that believe anyone that commits a serious crime should be adjudicated in criminal court. People within this group oppose giving any “leniency” towards these offenders, regardless of age. “Adult time for adult crimes” is one well-known argument that comes from this line of thinking.
Reform. There are many arguments in support as well as in opposition of juvenile transfer laws and adjudication in adult courts, as well as the treatment and sentencing of juveniles within the criminal justice system. One serious argument relating to juveniles adjudicated within the adult system is the constitutionality of sentencing a juvenile to the death penalty or even to life without the possibility of parole. For example, the American Psychological Association (APA), among a growing number of other medical and...

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