The three main mechanisms for treating juveniles as adults
The recent past has experienced an immense increase in juvenile delinquencies across various settings. In dealing with juvenile delinquency cases, the criminal justice systems across various states have devised different mechanism for treating juvenile delinquents as adults. The first mechanism is the waiver mechanism whereby the decision to treat a juveniles as adults are left to the Juvenile courts in any given State. Waiver provisions differ based on their flexibility in allowing juvenile courts to make such decisions (Hile 2). Many at times, such decisions are based on presumptions and discretions whereas in other cases they are mandatory, depending on the prevailing circumstances.
The second mechanism is the statutory exclusion, which gives criminal courts the novel jurisdiction to make decisions regarding various cases including juvenile cases. The third mechanism utilized in treating juveniles as adults is the direct file provision, which grants prosecutors the power to decide whether cases involving minors should be initiated in adult or juvenile courts.
Mechanisms used in Tennessee State to decide whether juveniles should be treated as adults
Evidently, the commonly utilized mechanism in treating juveniles as adults in the State of Tennessee is waiver. Precisely, this State has defined the upper age limit; 17, which determines the categories of populations to be tried in Juveniles courts. The use of waivers in this state to transfer juveniles to adult courts is often determined by the seriousness of the offence executed by the juveniles (Donna 64). Many at times, the state of Tennessee relies solely on discretionary waivers. The Tennessee Code of 2002 defines various matters regarding the use of waiver mechanism. While it is true that the use of the waiver transfer mechanism in the state Tennessee is common, the above connoted code has a provision, which allows for reverse waiver. Speaking of reverse waiver, this connoted to an application made by juveniles to reverse decisions made by the Tennessee courts to try them in an adult court.
Certainly, treating juveniles as adults are compounded by different merits and demerits. Worth noting is the fact that there continues to be a looming battle amongst policy makers regarding the treatment of juveniles as adults. From a policy perspective, treating juveniles as adults is beneficial because it safeguards policy decisions that are often structured to assure that the society remains a safe abode for all (Mulvey & Schubert Paragraph 4). Precisely, the trying of juveniles in an adult has a higher chance of assuring justice. This is because it has a higher likelihood of resulting in the incarceration of delinquent juveniles. On the other hand, treatment of adults as juveniles has severe policy implications because it disregards initial policies that define who juveniles are and how they should be treated, whether they are delinquent or not. Precisely, statutory standards have not been set by policy makers regarding treatment of juvenile as adults; hence, its implementation disregards policy related procedures that should be observed.
Treating juveniles are adults: opposing views
The fact that treating juveniles as adults offer higher chances of assuring justice since it has a higher likelihood of incarceration does not offer a substantive reason that justifies the treatment of juveniles as adults. Based on a personal thought, treating juveniles as adults is uncalled for; hence, should be repealed. There are various reasons that justify my position. More importantly, trying juveniles as adult’s presents with higher likelihood of mistreatment of juveniles (Hile 28). This is because it results in harsh penalties on the juveniles whereby the juveniles will be imprisoned with adults and this may results in sexual and physical assault of the juveniles by the adult prisoners. In addition, treating juveniles as adults presents with a severe influence on their development across their lifespan because the juveniles are less accustomed to handle criminal cases heard in adult courts.
Donna Marie Massey- Anderson, Juveniles Waivers in Tennessee: Justice Officials Speak, Florida State University, 1-209 (2006).
Hile, Kevin. Trial of Juveniles as Adults, New York: InfoBase Pub, 2003.
Mulvey, Edward and Schubert, Carol, Transfer of Juveniles to Adult Court: Effects of a Broad Policy in One Court, Juvenile Justice Bulletin, Dec 2012.