Article on Trying Kids as Adults

Article on Trying Kids as Adults

This is a discussion on Article on Trying Kids as Adults within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Ridiculous. You can't treat these kids like normal Ten year olds. NORMAL ten your olds don't commit premeditated murder. Editor's note: Robert Schwartz co-founded the ...

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Array dsee11789's Avatar
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    Article on Trying Kids as Adults

    Ridiculous.

    You can't treat these kids like normal Ten year olds. NORMAL ten your olds don't commit premeditated murder.

    Editor's note: Robert Schwartz co-founded the Juvenile Law Center in 1975 and has been its executive director since 1982. The center is a nonprofit public interest law firm that uses the law to ensure that youths in the foster care and justice systems are treated fairly and have opportunities to become productive adults.

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- About 20 years ago, 9-year-old Cameron Kocher fired a rifle out of a window of his home in upstate Pennsylvania and hit his 7-year-old neighbor, who was riding on a snowmobile, and killed her.

    The prosecutor decided to try the 9-year-old as an adult. When the charge is murder, Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states that has no lower age limit for trying children as adults.

    The district attorney argued that Cameron had lied when asked about the shooting -- and lying is something that adults do. The trial judge subsequently agreed to keep Cameron's case in adult court. The boy had seemed normal, the judge said, so there was nothing for the juvenile justice system to treat. Cameron had also dozed during pretrial motions, which showed "a lack of remorse."

    Cameron stayed home on bail -- which is available to "adults" -- while his case was argued in appellate courts. He eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was placed on probation. He received no treatment and had no further involvement with the justice system.

    [Nine-year-old] Cameron had also dozed during pretrial motions, which showed "a lack of remorse."

    --Robert Schwartz, head of Juvenile Law Center

    RELATED TOPICS
    Juvenile Justice
    The MacArthur Foundation
    Western Pennsylvania
    Criminal Trials
    Jump ahead 20 years, to the Western Pennsylvania prosecution of Jordan Brown, who was 11 when he was charged as an adult with shooting to death his father's pregnant fiancée. Jordan's attorneys have asked the trial judge to remand his case to juvenile court. The judge has taken the motion under advisement. It should be an easy decision.

    There are common-sense reasons to keep Jordan in the juvenile system. Ask any parents of an 11-year-old if they think their child is really just a small adult!

    If Jordan is adjudicated delinquent, the juvenile justice system can keep him until his 21st birthday. That is an extraordinary amount of time for an 11-year-old. It is certainly long enough to serve the needs of public protection, and enough time to rehabilitate a child. Indeed, studies routinely show that in these cases, the juvenile justice system protects the public better than the criminal justice system.

    If common sense isn't enough, examine the recent science on adolescent development.

    In the early part of the decade, researchers for the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice found that teenagers are less blameworthy than adults, and that their capacities change significantly over the course of adolescence.

    The researchers found what many of us were trying to say years earlier about Cameron Kocher: that at the age of 9, he simply couldn't process information and plan a crime like an adult.

    The MacArthur Foundation Research Network recognized that legal sanctions for misbehavior should not be based only on the harm a youth causes, but on the youth's culpability.

    Most people would agree. Every day, different defendants receive different sentences even if they caused the same harm. This is because defendants differ in culpability, or blameworthiness. At no other time are these differences more pronounced than during adolescence, when youths struggle with their immaturity, undeveloped decision-making abilities, impulsiveness, lack of future orientation and susceptibility to negative peer pressure.

    Recent brain imaging technology reinforces the adolescent development literature. From the prefrontal cortex to the limbic area, the teenage brain is undergoing dramatic changes during adolescence in ways that affect teens' ability to reason, to weigh consequences for their decisions and to delay gratification long enough to make careful short- and long-term choices.

    In their 2008 book "Rethinking Juvenile Justice," MacArthur researchers Dr. Laurence Steinberg and Elizabeth Scott concluded that young people under age 15 should never be tried as adults.

    Steinberg and Scott make clear that mitigation because of youth -- the fact that teens are less blameworthy than adults -- is not the same as an excuse. That is, trying youths in juvenile court is not the same as absolving them of responsibility.

    Ten years under juvenile court supervision, for an 11-year-old, is a very long time. The point is that while youths should be punished for their crimes, it should be done in a developmentally appropriate way. Any parent would know that it makes little sense to punish a 10-year-old the same as a 17-year-old.

    Another finding of the MacArthur Research Network was that young adolescents are not competent enough to be defendants. Young teens lack the skills to consult with their lawyers and shape trial strategy.

    Think of Cameron Kocher, who couldn't even stay awake for his pretrial motions. Imagine Jordan Brown, now all of 12 years old, advising his lawyer on approaches to cross-examining witnesses, or discussing the pros and cons of pleading guilty.

    It is in society's enlightened self-interest to keep young teens in the juvenile justice system, where public safety concerns can be addressed and young offenders can be held accountable and be rehabilitated. This is common sense. An 11-year-old is not an adult and should never be treated like one.

    The opinions in the commentary are solely those of Robert Schwartz. The Juvenile Law Center, which he heads, filed a friend of the court brief in Cameron Kocher's case in 1989 and is not involved in the Jordan Brown case.
    Exodus 22:2 "If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed"


  2. #2
    Distinguished Member Array tiwee's Avatar
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    The part about the defendant helping shape the trial strategy made the BS meter go off. I have not been in criminal court, but have been through some civil proceedings. My experience has been you hire a good lawyer and then follow the lawyer's advice. No shaping the legal strategy for me. What do I know about legal strategy?

    I have raised two boys and dealt with many teenagers in the Navy. Punish the first transgression severely enough that the second transgression does not happen. It works when accompanied with real love(my boys) or genuine interest(my sailors). The Juvenile Justice System fails to do both.

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    VIP Member Array Eagleks's Avatar
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    Here, any child under 10 yrs old is not considered mature enough to understand the concept of a crime or the consequences, and therefore cannot be charged with a crime. They can be monitored, ordered to get counseling and other things can occur, even placement outside the home, but it's not an official "crime".

    No one can be referred as an adult, unless it is a serious A or B felony, mutiple felonies, mutiple priors..... and 14 yrs old or older.. It used to be 16 yrs old, until the ire of the public pushed for it to be lowered. Reason, in one case for example the father convinced the 14 yr old kid to kill mom.... because he could never do "life" and never be tried as an adult.

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    Senior Member Array Rob P.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiwee View Post
    The part about the defendant helping shape the trial strategy made the BS meter go off. I have not been in criminal court, but have been through some civil proceedings. My experience has been you hire a good lawyer and then follow the lawyer's advice. No shaping the legal strategy for me. What do I know about legal strategy?

    I have raised two boys and dealt with many teenagers in the Navy. Punish the first transgression severely enough that the second transgression does not happen. It works when accompanied with real love(my boys) or genuine interest(my sailors). The Juvenile Justice System fails to do both.
    Your BS meter needs recalibrated.

    An attorney knows the law and the procedures to be used in the courtroom. What he doesn't know is the information the client has which can lead to a witness testifying favorably. So, in order to GET that information, the atty has to consult with the client and shape the questions to be asked. That is what is meant by "trial strategy" in this context.

    A child cannot help here. Mostly because a child cannot frame the understanding that the witness would not tell the truth in a way that everyone could see is the truth. Nor can that child assist the lawyer in forming questions designed to "shade" the truth. A child doesn't understand "shading the truth" as a concept.

    Children see the world as black & white. Courtrooms are nothing but gray.

  5. #5
    Distinguished Member Array BlueNinjaGo's Avatar
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    Wow... I'm on the fence on this issue...

    One one hand, if you do an adult crime (murder) than do the adult time. I strongly feel a 10 year old knows what murder is.

    On the other hand, I know what it's like to be young and do stupid things. GRANTED, I've never EVER fired a gun at someone or anything serious.

    I do feel sorry for a kid having to spend most of his childhood/life behind bars, but then I think about the parents of the little girl, or the family of victims in general, and I feel they should get justice.

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    Member Array merischino's Avatar
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    I have to say that I have little experience or knowledge of the juvenile system. Have never run across anywhere in the past (ever!) any statements or claims like the ones both explicitly stated here and then re-made implicitly several times throughout the article, that:

    1. The Juvenile Justice System does a better job of protecting the public from "child" offenders than would/does the Criminal Justice System

    2. The Juvenile Justice System actually does a better job of rehabilitating offenders than does/would the Criminal Justice System

    Before I could have any opinion at all about what this guy is saying, I'd need some cold hard facts on these claims.

    Which brings up another question: does anybody here have any cold hard facts on rehabilitation-ability of either the Juvenile Justice System or the Criminal Justice System?

    I've seen lots of heartwarming/hair-raising first-person-perspective fictional or based-on-true-story movies that would argue one point or the other, but never any actual statistics. Just a thought.

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    VIP Member Array Stevew's Avatar
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    The gangs agree with him. They know that they must use young members to commit certian crimes because of the justice system. There are plenty of gang members that are adults. Their role in the gang must change to match the justice system. I can't figure out why so many people are so concerned that young people who commit murder will recieve too harsh of a punishment. I say lock them up until the person they kill comes back to life.
    If little Johnny is bad let him go to the place where bad people go. If you can't control yourself, you should be controlled.
    Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around laws. Plato

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    I think that there is no way a ten year old is an adult or should be treated like one. There should be some sort of punishment but I think the parent or guardian should do the prison time. I think 13 or 14 is about right for trial as an adult.

    Our criminals are using new tactics like making kids commit crimes. Our legal system needs to be flexible enough to prosecute the adults that use these kids for evil.
    It is surely true that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. Nor can you make them grateful for your efforts.

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