Do minors know wrong from right? Considering that most minors do not have run-ins with the laws, it goes without saying that most minors know how to steer clear of trouble. Even so, there are several others who may be steered into trouble by external influences. When these juveniles commit crimes should they be tried as adults or as children?
Business Insider reports that after reviewing their policies, many states have decided to raise the age at which minors face trial as adults. Arizona is one of several states that made provisions to raise the age limit in more recent years. At the time the Business Insider article was published in 2016, the following states had become the most recent additions to the list:
- South Carolina
- New Hampshire
After passing these laws, many states have to grapple with how to put them into action. Despite the laws’ good intentions, juvenile facilities are often already overrun. While juvenile systems are more focused on rehabilitation, some also face intense levels of violence that make this difficult. This was the struggle South Carolina had to grapple with after passing the law.
The American Bar Association tackles juvenile trials from a more ethical standpoint. It poses the question of whether juveniles should ever be tried as adults and reports that the “tough on crime” system has produced more failures than successes. The practice of trying juveniles as adults was meant to deter them from committing crimes. However, studies have shown that the practice resulted in little to no changes to violent behavior and repeat offenses are on the rise.