Should juveniles be tried as adults?  If so, under what circumstances? If not, why not?   Please be specific.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am not a big proponent of juveniles being tried as adults.  I think that while criminal activity is abhorrent as it tears apart at the threads which bind society and individuals, children need some level of reformation and change in the manner in which they are punished, as opposed to adults.  To apply the same sentencing guidelines to a child who is 16 to an adult who is 35 is disproportionate in my mind.  I think that there has to be some level of punishment, but it has to be driven by a need of seeking change within the child.  The fact that mistakes are made by children has to figure into the calculus of this decision.  I completely concede that some of the mistakes being made by children are terrible in nature, but the punishment must be different due to the position of life in which they are as well as the developmental differences between children and adults.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In general, I do not think that juveniles should be tried as adults.  We assume that juveniles are too young to do a variety of things -- drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, drive cars, vote, have sex with adults, sign contracts, give themselves permission to participate in school sports.  Given this, we obviously believe that they are not capable of making rational decisions in a number of areas.  So why, then, do we assume that they are capable of making decisions just like adult decisions when it comes to crime?

I can definitely see why people would want to charge juveniles as adults when they commit crimes, especially bad crimes.  But it does not make sense given what we assume about their mental and emotional states.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a general rule of thumb, juveniles should not be tried as adults. When they have the rights of adults, then they should be tried as such, otherwise there is an inconsistency. However, each situation and person is different. So, any rule will not be perfect; in this light, rules can be seen a general frameworks. So, I think juveniles should be tried as adults in certain situations. The jury should decide this. For example, if the juvenile knew exactly what he or she was doing and was a repeat offenders and has a certain level of maturity, then perhaps that person should be tried as an adult. Again I believe it should be a case by case basis.

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that in some instances juveniles should be tried as adults. If the crime is a serious offense such as murder then they should be tried as an adult. We may want to look at how we penalize the juvenile offender, not sure that I would want to sentence a juvenile to the death penalty. If we do not have the option of treating the juvenile offender as an adult what deterrent is there for the juvenile to not do the crime? If the juvenile is of sound mind and knows right from wrong try them as an adult.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do think that minors should be charged as adults when adult crimes such as murder have been committed.  I do think we need a more specific age limit in most cases - sentencing a 9 year old along adult guidelines seems impossible and foolish, so what age should we limit it to?

I do not believe, however, that minors should be sentenced to adult incarceration. I believe they should not enter the adult penal system until at least age 18, more likely, age 21.

shellyhottie | Student
i think that minors should be tried as an adult for how harsh the crime is. if they kill someone then YES they should. they shouldnt just get a slap on the rist they need punishment so hopefully they wont do it again.
dl74371 | Student

i think that juveniles should be charged as adults when the crime involves a murder and/or gang relations.

iknow | Student

I don't think juveniles should be tried as adults for many of reasons. First off, they may have grew up in a single parent household and wasn't really given the right method on how to live on a daily basic. Second off they may be old enough by law to understand but, really have no real knowledge on how things may or not have effect on there lives. and third of all, if they do or have done adult crimes they shouldn't  serve the adult terms in jail or prison but, they should be seeing help for there actions because alot of people who have been locked up for whatever reason get released and come back out and  do the same thing over again or even something worst.