Trying Juveniles as Adults: Changes to the Rules Should Be Considered
The juvenile justice system exists because children who are accused of crimes need and deserve to be treated differently than adults. Children can often be rehabilitated and go on to have bright futures. However, an early criminal conviction and serious penalties could derail a child’s entire life. Unfortunately, New York is one of the harshest states when it comes to punishing juvenile offenders and far too often, these young defendants never get the opportunity to turn things around.
If your child has been accused of a crime, the Schenectady criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of James E. Tyner, PLLC can provide you with assistance in trying to protect your son or daughter. You should act quickly to get legal help and never assume that a juvenile offense will be treated as a minor crime in the state of New York.
Raising the Age for Kids to be Tried as Adults Should Be Considered
One problem within New York when it comes to the issue of juvenile justice is that New York is one of just two states in the U.S. where 16 year olds are automatically tried as adults if they have been accused of crimes. The only other state that automatically subjects teens at this age to the rigors of the adult criminal justice system is North Carolina.
Because of NY’s rule, teens 16 and up who are found guilty will end up in adult prison with grown men and women and will have unsealed criminal records that follow them for life. While all 50 states in the U.S. allow juveniles to be transferred to the adult system, most states do not make this process automatic for young people.
In addition to New York and North Carolina requiring 16 year olds to be tried as adults, there are just seven states where 17 year olds automatically end up in adult court. Elsewhere throughout the U.S., an appropriate decision is made on how to try a child for an offense based on various factors such as the severity of the child’s actions.
Refinery 29 reports that a group of mothers who lost their children to prison have now joined many other advocates of criminal justice reform in trying to get New York to change its rules. One mother’s son was 17 when he set fire to his family’s home because of his mental illness. He confessed and believed he’d be helped with his mental health issues, but was instead sentenced to 4 to 12 years in an adult prison. He received inadequate treatment for his mental health issues, was abused and sexually assaulted, was transferred and placed into solitary confinement. He ultimately committed suicide.
Young people sentenced to adult prison are at the greatest risk of sexual assault in prison and many young people have been found to lack the experience and knowledge to cope with prison conditions. Young people should not have to face being locked up with adults and have their lives derailed automatically after an offense committed when they were 16, but unless and until reform occurs, this is the likely outcome for a 16-year-old defendant in New York.
If your child is arrested, you need to get help to try to avoid a potentially dire fate for your son or daughter. The Law Office of James E. Tyner, PLLC attorneys will do everything possible to help your child stay out of prison or reduce the sentence faced. Contact us today.