10 Pros and Cons of Juveniles Being Tried as Adults

Pros And Cons Of Juveniles Being Tried As Adults

When it comes to the criminal justice system, there has been an ongoing debate about juveniles being tried as adults.

While some believe that holding minors accountable for their actions is necessary, others argue that treating them like adults can have negative consequences.

This article will explore the pros and cons of juveniles being tried as adults.

On one hand, proponents of trying juveniles as adults argue that it sends a strong message about accountability and responsibility.

They claim that if a minor commits a serious crime, such as murder or rape, they should face the same consequences as an adult offender.

Additionally, they assert that harsher punishments may deter other young individuals from engaging in criminal behavior.

However, opponents argue that children are not fully developed mentally and emotionally and therefore cannot be held responsible for their actions in the same way as adults.

Furthermore, sentencing them to long prison terms can harm their rehabilitation and reintegration into society later on in life.

These contrasting opinions highlight the complexities surrounding this issue, which we will delve further into throughout this article.

Pros of Juveniles Being Tried as Adults

  1. Deterrence: One argument in favor of trying juveniles as adults is that it serves as a deterrent against committing serious crimes. By holding juveniles accountable in the same manner as adults, it sends a strong message that there are severe consequences for engaging in criminal behavior, potentially dissuading other young individuals from committing similar offenses.
  2. Justice for Victims: Trying juveniles as adults allows for a greater sense of justice for the victims and their families. In cases where the crimes are particularly heinous or violent, treating juveniles as adults acknowledges the severity of the offense and ensures that the victims’ rights are upheld.
  3. Public Safety: Trying juveniles as adults can help protect public safety by removing dangerous offenders from society. In cases where the juvenile has demonstrated a high risk of reoffending or poses a significant threat to others, treating them as adults can result in lengthier sentences or appropriate rehabilitative measures to address their behavior effectively.
  4. Individualized Assessment: Trying juveniles as adults allows for a more individualized assessment of their level of responsibility and maturity. Some juveniles may possess a level of understanding and culpability comparable to that of adults, and trying them in adult court allows for a comprehensive evaluation of their mental and emotional development.
  5. Access to Services: In certain instances, trying juveniles as adults may provide access to a wider range of services and interventions that are available within the adult criminal justice system. This could include specialized treatment programs, educational resources, or vocational training that may better address the needs of the juvenile and promote their rehabilitation.

Cons of Juveniles Being Tried as Adults

  1. Developmental Differences: One of the primary concerns with trying juveniles as adults is the recognition that their brains are still developing, and they may lack the same level of cognitive capacity, impulse control, and decision-making abilities as adults. This raises questions about the fairness of holding them to the same standards of responsibility as fully developed adults.
  2. Loss of Rehabilitation Focus: The juvenile justice system is designed to focus on rehabilitation and addressing the underlying factors contributing to delinquency. Trying juveniles as adults often shifts the emphasis away from rehabilitation and towards punishment, potentially hindering their chances of successful reintegration into society.
  3. Increased Recidivism: Studies have shown that trying juveniles as adults may lead to higher rates of recidivism. Placing young offenders in adult correctional facilities exposes them to negative influences, such as more hardened criminals, and limits access to age-appropriate interventions and treatment programs that are typically available in the juvenile justice system.
  4. Disproportionate Impact on Minority and Vulnerable Youth: There is a concern that trying juveniles as adults disproportionately affects minority and vulnerable youth populations. Research has indicated that racial disparities exist within the adult criminal justice system, and extending adult court jurisdiction to juveniles may exacerbate these disparities, leading to unequal treatment and outcomes.
  5. Long-Term Consequences: Trying juveniles as adults can have long-term consequences for their future prospects and opportunities. A criminal record acquired in adult court can hinder educational, employment, and housing opportunities, perpetuating a cycle of criminal behavior and reducing the chances of successful rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
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Accountability And Responsibility

Have you ever wondered about the extent of accountability and responsibility that juveniles should have when they commit heinous crimes? Developmental psychology suggests that young individuals below 18 years old are still in their formative stage, which means that their brains are not yet fully developed. As a result, they may lack impulse control, emotional regulation, and critical thinking skills.

On the other hand, societal norms expect people to be responsible for their actions and face consequences if found guilty of wrongdoing. Therefore, critics argue that juveniles who commit serious felonies should be tried as adults since the gravity of their offenses requires appropriate punishment. They emphasize that justice must be served regardless of age or background.

However, there is also an opposing view on this matter. Supporters believe that trying minors as adults would only exacerbate the situation instead of addressing it properly. It could lead to detrimental effects such as exposing them to adult prisons where they may encounter violence and abuse. Moreover, punishing children with harsh sentences can reduce their chances of rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

Harsher Punishments As A Deterrent

Although accountability and responsibility are important factors to consider when it comes to juveniles being tried as adults, there are also long term effectiveness and ethical considerations that need to be taken into account.

The question of whether harsher punishments serve as a deterrent for future crime is one that has been debated for years. While some argue that trying juveniles as adults will deter them from committing crimes in the future, others believe that this approach only leads to further harm.

When it comes to the long term effectiveness of trying juveniles as adults, studies have shown mixed results. Some research suggests that harsher penalties do not necessarily lead to reduced recidivism rates among young offenders. In fact, many juvenile justice experts argue that rehabilitation programs are often more effective at preventing youth from re-offending than simply punishing them with prison time.

In addition to questions about effectiveness, there are also ethical concerns surrounding treating minors like adults in the criminal justice system. Many opponents of trying juveniles as adults argue that the practice goes against basic principles of fairness and due process. They point out that adolescents’ brains are still developing, which can impact their decision-making abilities and impulse control. Therefore, subjecting them to adult sentences may be seen as cruel or disproportionate punishment.

Ultimately, while holding young people accountable for their actions is necessary, it’s important to carefully weigh both short and long-term consequences before deciding how best to proceed.

Immaturity And Lack Of Development In Juveniles

But what is it about juveniles that makes them different from adults? Is it just their age, or is there something more to it?

The truth is, juvenile brains are not fully developed. In fact, the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain responsible for decision-making and impulse control – doesn’t fully mature until around age 25. This means that juveniles may act impulsively without fully understanding the consequences of their actions.

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This lack of brain development can also make juveniles more susceptible to social influence. Peer pressure and a desire to fit in can lead young people down dangerous paths, even if they know better. Juveniles may be more likely to engage in risky behavior when surrounded by friends who encourage such actions.

Considering these factors, trying juveniles as adults seems counterproductive at best and unjust at worst. Here are three reasons why:

  1. It ignores the reality of brain development: Trying juveniles as adults assumes that they have the same level of maturity and decision-making capability as an adult, which simply isn’t true.
  2. It takes away opportunities for rehabilitation: If we treat young offenders like hardened criminals, we’re less likely to offer them resources for growth and change.
  3. It perpetuates cycles of violence: When young people are thrown into adult prisons with no hope for reform or guidance, they’re more likely to become repeat offenders once released.

Ultimately, society should strive towards a system that acknowledges differences between juveniles and adults while still holding young offenders accountable for their actions. Rather than throwing them into a broken criminal justice system designed for grown-ups, we need to invest in programs that promote rehabilitation and positive growth for our youth.

Harm To Rehabilitation And Reintegration

As discussed in the previous section, juveniles often lack maturity and development that is present in adults. However, trying them as adults can also have harmful effects on their rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

Firstly, being tried as an adult can have a significant impact on families of juvenile offenders. It creates emotional stress for both the offender and their loved ones. The family may lose faith in the justice system and feel discouraged from seeking help or support for their child’s issues. Additionally, some families may be financially burdened by legal fees and other expenses associated with a trial.

Moreover, societal implications cannot be ignored when discussing the pros and cons of trying juveniles as adults. When young offenders are placed in adult prisons, they are exposed to more serious crimes such as violence and drugs which could lead to increased recidivism rates. Furthermore, it sends a message to society that we give up on our youth too easily rather than providing them with opportunities for education and rehabilitation.

In conclusion, while there are arguments to be made for treating certain juvenile cases as adult offenses based on severity of crime committed, it is important not to overlook the detrimental effects this has on both families affected by the process and broader social implications. As a society, we should strive towards finding alternative ways to hold juveniles accountable while simultaneously promoting rehabilitation efforts that allow them to become productive members of society once again.

Pros Cons
Juvenile accountability Emotional strain on families
Deterrent effect Exposure to adult criminal activities
Justice served according to severity of crime Higher risk of recidivism
Rehabilitation opportunities Potential for unfair treatment and abuse in the justice system

Complexities And Debates Surrounding The Issue

The issue of juveniles being tried as adults is complex and multifaceted. There are legal precedents and societal attitudes that must be considered in such cases.

On one hand, some argue that juveniles who commit heinous crimes should face the same punishment as adults. However, others believe that this approach ignores the fact that juveniles’ brains are not fully developed and they may not fully comprehend the consequences of their actions.

Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that trying juveniles as adults may actually lead to higher rates of recidivism. These complexities have led to debates about how best to handle juvenile offenders who have committed serious crimes.

It’s important for society to consider both punitive measures and rehabilitative efforts when dealing with these individuals. Ultimately, finding a balance between justice and compassion will require ongoing dialogue and careful consideration by lawmakers, judges, and communities alike.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Age Range Qualifies As A Juvenile In The Justice System?

Hey, folks! Let me clue you in on the juvenile age range and age cutoff for juveniles in the justice system.

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In most states, anyone under 18 is considered a juvenile when they come into contact with law enforcement. However, some places set an age limit of 16 or 17 years old.

It’s crucial to note that being tried as an adult brings about more severe consequences than being tried as a child. So it’s essential to understand the legal definitions of ‘juvenile’ and ‘adult.’

Can Juveniles Receive The Same Legal Representation As Adults?

When it comes to the question of whether juveniles can receive the same legal representation as adults, there are several factors to consider.

One important consideration is the role of guardians in ensuring that their child receives fair and adequate representation.

However, some argue that even with the involvement of a guardian, juvenile defendants may still face unfair treatment due to biases against them based on their age.

Additionally, resources for juvenile legal representation may be limited compared to those available for adult cases, further impacting fairness in the justice system.

These issues demonstrate the need for careful attention and advocacy when it comes to ensuring that all defendants – regardless of age – have access to quality legal representation.

Are There Any Countries Where Juveniles Are Always Tried As Adults?

While there is no country where juveniles are always tried as adults, it’s important to consider the international perspective and cultural differences in how different countries approach juvenile justice.

For example, some European countries have a stronger emphasis on rehabilitation rather than punishment for young offenders.

In contrast, certain states in the US have laws that allow juveniles to be automatically tried as adults for certain crimes.

It’s crucial to recognize that approaches to juvenile justice vary widely across cultures and legal systems, and what works well in one context may not necessarily work elsewhere.

How Does Being Tried As An Adult Affect A Juvenile’s Future Opportunities, Such As Education Or Employment?

Being tried as an adult can have significant societal implications and psychological effects on a juvenile’s future opportunities, such as education or employment.

Studies show that juveniles who are convicted as adults often struggle to reintegrate into society due to the stigma attached to their criminal record. They may face limited job prospects, restricted access to housing, and even difficulty pursuing higher education.

Moreover, being tried as an adult can lead to lasting psychological damage for young people, including increased anxiety and depression levels, and decreased self-esteem.

Therefore, it is crucial for lawmakers to consider these long-term consequences when deciding whether juveniles should be tried as adults.

Are There Any Alternative Approaches To Dealing With Juvenile Offenders Besides Trying Them As Adults Or Keeping Them In The Juvenile Justice System?

When dealing with juvenile offenders, there are alternative approaches to consider beyond the traditional justice systems.

Community-based programs and restorative justice approaches have emerged as promising options that prioritize rehabilitation over punishment.

These methods focus on repairing harm caused by the offender while also addressing root causes of their behavior, such as mental health issues or substance abuse.

By avoiding harsh sentencing and offering support instead, these approaches can provide a second chance for youth to turn their lives around and become productive members of society.


In conclusion, the decision to try juveniles as adults is a complex issue with both pros and cons. While it may deter other potential offenders and bring justice to victims, it can also have negative consequences for the juvenile’s future opportunities and rehabilitation.

I remember hearing about a young boy who made a mistake at age 16 and was tried as an adult. He served his time in prison but struggled to find employment or housing due to his criminal record, ultimately leading him down a path of recidivism. This serves as a metaphor for how trying juveniles as adults can hinder their ability to move forward in life and contribute positively to society.

Overall, while punishment should be administered when necessary, we must also consider the long-term effects on the individual and explore alternative approaches that prioritize rehabilitation over retribution.