The process for shifting a juvenile case from a juvenile court to an adult’s criminal courts depends on the seriousness of the crime committed, the age of the suspect or the efficiency of the juvenile justice system used to rectify the juvenile’s behavior in the past. The purpose of the juvenile justice system is to assist juveniles in behavioral change so that they can grow to be responsible citizens. On contrary, the judicial arrangement that takes juvenile cases to adult criminal courts fails in the objective of rectifying the juvenile offenders’ behavior most cases.
Most of the American states have modified their laws such that it easier for judges to determine whether a suspected minor’s case warrants hearing in an adult criminal court, this is the Judicial Waiver method. A few states use the Prosecutorial Discretion, whereby the prosecutor handles the decision of taking juveniles’ cases to adult criminal courts. See Vincent Schliraldi & Jason Zeilderberg, The Florida Experiment, Justice Policy Institute. 1-13, 3 (July 1999).
The forwarding of juvenile of cases to adult criminal courts has caused more harm than good since there is no proof of the positive effect of behavioral change after instilling stiff penalties on the juvenile offenders; this questions the functionality of charging juveniles like adults. See Robert E Shepherd Jr. Evidence mounts on wisdom of trying juveniles as adults. Criminal Justice L.J. 22(4), 42-44, (2008). In addition, the introduction of Prosecutorial Discretion has caused an increase in the non-violent youth cases that are forwarded to adult criminal courts, as compared to the number of similar cases forwarded by judges. Vincent et al, supra at 3.
The other problems linked to the determination of juvenile cases in adult courts include the increased probability for the juvenile to relapse into crime and juveniles are more vulnerable to sexual and physical assault when they are jailed with adults, a problem which increases the minor’s chances of committing suicide. Robert, supra.
The transfer of juvenile’s cases to adult criminal courts has not helped in changing the behavior of the juveniles, but there should be a way that criminal offences by minors should be handled such that the juvenile is given a chance to positively modify his/her behavior. For instance, an intermediary correction facility can be set up whereby juvenile offenders with a bad criminal record or serious offences can get the chance to change their behavior positively.
Robert E Shepherd Jr. Evidence mounts on wisdom of trying juveniles as adults. Criminal Justice L.J. 22(4) (2008) 42-44.
Vincent Schliraldi & Jason Zeilderberg, The Florida Experiment.(July 1999), http://www.prisonpolicy.org/scans/jpi/florida.pdf