SPELLMAN LAW, P.C.
Based In West Des Moines, Iowa, Practicing In Central
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A shift away from juveniles being tried as adults

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

The number of juvenile offenders tried in adult courts has hit historic lows. Following the tough stance on crimes of the 1980s and 90s, the U.S. legal system is refusing to charge juveniles as adults in Iowa. The U.S. juvenile justice system is now being used to rehabilitate most young offenders.

The super-predator myth

Much like the war on drugs of the 1980s, the U.S. criminal justice system has failed young offenders. In the 1990s, the myth of the super-predator led to juveniles being charged as adults. The criminal defense for a juvenile is different from that of an adult. The 2010s and 20s have seen a gradual softening of the approach toward juvenile offenders.

Juvenile crime numbers are changing

The number of juveniles charged with crimes as adults has been falling since 2010. the dramatic shift in the number of juveniles charged as adults fell from eight percent in 2010 to two percent in 2019. The fall in numbers has continued into 2020, with one percent the number for the last year.

Raise the age

Campaigners have been attempting to raise the age of adult responsibility across the U.S. Most states have been responsive in pushing the age of being tried as an adult to 18. A few states still cling to 17 as the age of adult responsibility, including Georgia.

Reasons for juveniles not to be charged with adult crimes

There are several reasons why researchers are trying to limit the number of juveniles charged as adults. Research has shown the brains of teens have not fully developed to make key decisions. Adult jails do not allow teens access to mental health professionals, increasing the likelihood of suicide and further crimes after release.

Learning about the differences between adult and juvenile crimes will help improve a criminal defense.

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Sean P. Spellman
Mary K. “Molly” Spellman