Minors disadvantaged in adult prisons

Youths should not be tried as adults

Allison Cramer

Every year in the United States justice system, approximately 250,000 minors are tried as adults and 100,000 end up in adult jails or prisons, according to Truthloader News.

The transferring of youth to the adult criminal justice system not only contributes to a higher crime rate, but is often cruel and unnecessary to the juveniles.

Cases transferred from juvenile court to adult court usually involve minors accused of more serious or violent crimes or repeat offenders.

In the adult justice system, youths are more likely to receive a longer sentence and will serve time in adult prisons instead of juvenile detention centers if convicted.

Juveniles’ brains are not fully developed like those of adults and therefore they sometimes lack the ability to make sound judgments and control their impulses, according to the Campaign For Youth Justice.

This underdevelopment also indicates a strong ability to change, making assimilation back into society more possible for juveniles than for adults.

Although juveniles who commit crimes should be held accountable, they should not be treated as if their minds work the same way as those of adults.

While the juvenile detention system aims to reintegrate youth into society, the adult system values punishment above all else.

Many adult prisons do not provide education, especially at the level necessary for juveniles.

Minors charged in the adult system are burdened by a lack of education and by a permanent record.

They must live with the stigma and negative public perception of being a convicted felon for the rest of their lives.

Many minors in the adult justice system plead guilty without fully understanding these long-term ramifications.

Most shocking of all are the dangers and inhumane treatment minors face in adult prisons.

Youth imprisoned with adults as compared to youth in juvenile detention centers are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted, 50 percent more likely to be assaulted with a weapon and three times more likely to be assaulted by prison staff, according to Truthloader News.

Minors are often placed in solitary confinement for their own protection from adult prison inmates. However, this is a heinous and harmful solution to the issue of prison violence.

Thousands of minors are held in solitary confinement every day in the United States.

The trying of minors as adults in the criminal justice system is detrimental not only to the minors, but also to society as a whole, because of the higher re-offending rates of youths charged as adults.

According to the Campaign for Youth-Justice, early interventions, such as rehabilitation programs available in youth detention centers prevents high-risk youth from engaging in repeat criminal offenses.

It also can save the public nearly $5.7 million in costs during a lifetime.

We are often too quick to condemn youth with little attempt at helping them to lead a life without crime. To combat our ineffectual system, we need to reserve adult sentences for juveniles with only the most severe cases.