Advocates Seek to Limit Cases Where Juveniles Are Tried as Adults

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Hartford Juvenile Crimes LawyerMinors who are accused of committing criminal offenses often struggle to be treated fairly as they navigate the justice system. Juvenile justice cases typically focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment, and minors are often able to participate in programs meant to help them avoid future criminal activity and ensure that they can have a positive impact on their communities. Juvenile offenders may receive counseling or drug treatment, and they may be sentenced to community service or probation that will allow them to continue living in their homes and attending school. Incarceration in a juvenile detention facility may be appropriate in some cases, but minors will often be given opportunities that will allow them to return to their homes and reintegrate into society. 

However, there are some situations where minors’ cases may be transferred to adult court, leading to incarceration in adult prisons and other harsh punishments. Juvenile offenders who are tried as adults often face significant difficulties that limit their opportunities and lead them to re-offend. Because of this, criminal justice advocates are calling for new laws to be passed that will put an end to automatic transfers of juvenile offenders to adult courts and ensure that minors can be treated fairly in the justice system.

Issues That Affect Juvenile Offenders in the Adult Justice System

The juvenile justice system is based on the principle that children should not be permanently affected by mistakes they made while their brains were still developing. Unfortunately, minors who are tried as adults based on accusations of violent crimes or other serious offenses often face significant difficulties that affect their mental health and their ability to receive an education and pursue opportunities after they are released.

Minors who are tried as adults will usually be incarcerated in adult prisons, but they must be kept separate from adult inmates. This often results in situations that are functionally equivalent to solitary confinement. The inability to interact with others or participate in activities or programs can have a drastic impact on a minor’s mental health. Minors incarcerated in adult correctional facilities are at a higher risk of suicide, and they often struggle to return to normalcy after completing their sentences.

These issues are compounded by the limited opportunities that are available to convicted criminals. Minors who have a criminal record may be unable to pursue education, and they will often have trouble finding employment. These issues make them more likely to turn to criminal activity, and any subsequent convictions will often result in harsh punishments due to a history of prior convictions.

In Connecticut, children involved in the juvenile justice system who are at least 15 years old will be automatically transferred to adult court if they are charged with offenses that are classified as Class A or Class B felonies. These offenses include murder, assault or sexual assault with a firearm, and robbery involving the use of a deadly weapon. When a child over the age of 15 is charged with a Class C or Class D felony, a prosecutor may request a “discretionary transfer” and ask a judge to transfer the case to adult court.

To help minors avoid the consequences that come with being tried or convicted in adult court, criminal justice advocates are seeking to put an end to automatic transfers. While it may be appropriate to try children as adults in some cases, these matters should be handled on a case-by-case basis, and minors should be afforded opportunities for rehabilitation. Since Black and minority offenders are more likely to be arrested, charged with serious offenses, and receive harsh sentences, these reforms would help address racial disparities in the justice system.

Contact Our Connecticut Juvenile Justice Lawyer

When minors have been charged with criminal offenses, it is crucial to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help them seek a fair and just outcome. At Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we provide knowledgeable legal guidance and effective representation for children facing criminal charges in Connecticut. If you or your child are facing criminal charges, our Hartford criminal defense attorney will work tirelessly to ensure that your rights will be protected and that you will be able to avoid consequences that will permanently affect your life. Contact us at 860-290-8690 to set up a free consultation and learn how we can help with your case.

 

Sources:

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/advocates-push-to-end-the-automatic-charging-of-juveniles-as-adults-in-certain-crimes

https://portal.ct.gov/OPM/CJ-JJYD/Main-Navigation/Juvenile-Justice-System

https://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_815t.htm#sec_46b-127

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