Why Juveniles Shouldn't Be Tried as Adults

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Explaining Why Juveniles Should Not Be Tried as Adults
  • The Effect of Being Tried as Adults on Juveniles
  • Forgiving Juveniles' Behavior
  • Conclusion


From something as simple as stealing candy to something as insane as murder, children all over the world throughout the years have committed crimes. In most states, if a child is younger than the age of ten years old they are automatically deemed incapable of committing a crime. However in the cases that a child does commit a crime, it is then up to the juvenile system to determine the severity of the crime and whether the child should be charged as an adult, or processed through the juvenile system and rehabilitated. In the cases that juveniles are tried as adults, the juvenile system determines this based on the seriousness of the offense and whether the child caused serious harm to another person; the age of the juvenile; the juvenile’s record of criminal activity, and whether the juvenile is amenable to treatment. Someone not amenable would be a juvenile who has already received counseling and other services but continued to commit crimes, showing that the rehabilitative response of the juvenile system has not worked and isn't likely to work in the future. Juveniles should not be tried as an adult when they commit serious crimes because they are more likely to stay in the system and it negatively impacts their families.

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Explaining Why Juveniles Should Not Be Tried as Adults

Trying juveniles as adults is not a good solution because they are more likely to return to the system time and time again; whereas rehabilitation allows them to better themselves and return to the world a better person. Many adolescents that are processed through the adult system are more likely to commit violent crimes again which in turn will become a cycle; never giving the juvenile the chance to change their ways. In the article Juvenile Injustice: Charging Youth as Adults is Ineffective, Biased and Harmful, the author states, “Several large-scale studies have found higher recidivism rates among juveniles tried and sentenced in adult court than among youth charged with similar offenses in juvenile court” (Human Impact Partners). This shows that sending our youth away to adult facilities rather than giving them the opportunity and a second chance to be processed through the juvenile system is more harmful than beneficial. If juveniles were allowed to be rehabilitated and have weaker sentences than the adult system, there would be a lower recidivism rate and this would benefit the community and our youth rather than just throwing them away for good.

The Effect of Being Tried as Adults on Juveniles

Processing juveniles through the adult system is detrimental to their well-being along with their families both emotionally and financially. Having a loved one tried in adult court takes a toll on one emotionally because they have no control over what happens to them. While in the juvenile system they can participate in being there for their loved one fully which is more beneficial to the family. Adolescents are also at such an impressionable age that sending them into the adult system is more detrimental to their well-being because these facilities are violent and unfit for children. The expenses of these charges as well leave a terrible financial burden on families who in most cases cannot afford it. In the article Juvenile Injustice: Charging Youth as Adults is Ineffective, Biased and Harmful, the author states, “The inability to participate fully while their loved one is going through the system can be mentally and emotionally harmful to families” and then continues by claiming, “The economic burden of legal fees, court costs, restitution payments, and visitation expenses can have disastrous and long-lasting financial consequences for families” (Human Impact Partners). The article also speaks about how these facilities are highly aggressive and can lead to developmental issues for the child. Our youth should not be put into cages with adults as they are at such an impressionable age and this can affect them forever. Once you raise a child in these facilities rather than taking advantage of rehabilitating them, they are more likely to just stay in the system for the rest of their lives. However, if we take juveniles out of these cages with grown men and women and put them into rehabilitative programs they are more likely to develop into fine young men and women who can leave a good impact on their communities.

Forgiving Juveniles' Behavior

Some people believe that juveniles are taking advantage of leniency in the juvenile system because they continue to commit violent crimes since they believe that they can get away with it. While this may be true, it is known and scientifically proven that adolescents are more likely to commit crimes since their prefrontal cortex isn't fully developed and risk-taking is more satisfying. In the article Juveniles Should Be Tried as Adults in Certain Circumstances the author states, “Some youths are even known to commit crimes without thought because they know they cannot be tried as adults” (Estudillo). However in the article Juvenile Injustice: Charging Youth as Adults is Ineffective, Biased and Harmful, the author states, “It is common and normal for youth to engage in risky behaviors that may negatively impact their health. In fact, our brains reward us for these risky behaviors when we are adolescents” (Human Impact Partners). This shows that juveniles do not just commit crimes because they know that they can get away with it but because they are biologically satisfied since they are still young. Therefore, sending adolescents to the adult court system is ridiculous because juveniles are not fully culpable for their actions. They are still kids and kids make mistakes and do not deserve to be thrown away in a system with adults and left for nothing. As a society, it is our job to rehabilitate our youth and turn them into better people who can benefit our society rather than locking them up for the rest of their lives.


In conclusion, trying juveniles as adults is not the solution to the problem because they will only end up in a cycle of being in and out of the system and it will leave a negative impact and the individual and their families. It is time to help our youth who made mistakes, some worse than others but all equal as human beings who deserve a second chance. Instead of taking the easy route and throwing away the key, we need to build each other up to create a better environment for our society.

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