The Problem of Sentencing the Youths as Adults Youth Life Sentencing, Direct Transfer and Raise the Age Outline

  • Uncategorized

TheProblem of Sentencing the Youths as Adults: Youth Life Sentencing,Direct Transfer and Raise the Age


  1. Youth delinquency is one of the issues that criminal justice systems across different jurisdictions are grappling with

  2. The statistics have revealed juvenile delinquency has been increasing despite the interventions. Give the statistics

  3. Minors are involved in various forms of crimes, including capital offenses.

  4. The common approach to dealing with juvenile delinquency involving capital crimes has been trying and sentencing them as adults.

  5. The question of intrigue is whether such treatments have been any effective

  6. Thesis: This paper argues that the approach of sentencing juveniles as adults is ineffective and only tends to result in other adverse problems such as failed deterrence, disproportionate minority contact, and mass re-arrests.

  1. Does Youth Sentencing Reduce Juvenile Offences: A Look at Theory

A.The Perspectives advocates of Mandatory Sentencing

B. Retributive justice


D.Containment of dangerous offenders


F.The Perspective Opponents Mandatory Incarceration

G.It does not deter

H.It does not rehabilitate it worsens the situation

  1. A Look at Statistics and Research Findings

  1. The number of juvenile inmates has been increasing.

  2. Therefore, Mandatory sentencing is not effective. Disproportionate minority contact with the prisons has been increasing, give evidence of statistics, and explain why this comes about.

  3. Mandatory incarceration has not been helpful in rehabilitating young offenders because many of the released inmates end up being re-arrested.

  4. It leads to ‘hardening’ of offenders

  5. It robs the juveniles the resilience to live a criminal free life. The juveniles are sentenced early in their life they do not access education. When released, they cannot secure employment. Many are condemned to the street life. They turn to crimes as the only way of survival. Please Google and expound this explanation

  1. Conclusion and Recommendations

  1. What was the purpose of this paper?

  2. What was the thesis?

  3. What have you found out?

  4. Recommendation

TheProblem of Sentencing the Youths as Adults

Thejuvenile justice system has been on the receiving end of constantattacks from various quarters, especially, the media, courts, public,legislators, and criminal justice professionals over its approachesto juvenile justice (De Vries, 2015). Many countries across the globehave been grappling to deal with the problem of young offenderscommitting offenses again, even after long-term sentences in thecriminal justice system. Despite different interventions byorganizations such the United Nations and Youth on Tract`s efforts inproviding early interventions, the number of young offenders hasremained significant. For instance, as of 2013, the number ofcriminals in juvenile facilities was 35,000 (Black, 2016). It is alsoworth noting that youths have been involved in different kinds ofcrimes, including capital offenses. According to Ryans (2014), over60,000 youths were arrested in 2016 in the United States for violentcrimes. The criminal justice systems have been essentially beensentencing juveniles as adults, which is against the principles andguidelines in Article 37 of the United Nations Human RightsConvention that prohibits juvenile sentences suchcapital punishment.Some of the interesting cases that involved young offenders includeStanfordv. Kentucky,Penryv. Lynaugh,Atkinsv. Virginia,Simmons,and Stanford v. Kentucky.For instance, Simmons who was sentenced to life imprisonment withoutthe possibility of parole (Bachman &ampSchutt, 2014). The questionof intrigue is whether the conventional approaches of punishing theyoung offenders on same platforms as adult offenders, including youthlife sentencing, direct transfer and raise the age has had anysignificance in reducing or preventing juvenile’s delinquency. Thispaper argues that the approach of sentencing juveniles as adults isineffective and only tends to result in other adverse problems suchas failed deterrence, disproportionate minority contact, and massre-arrests and actions.

ThePerspectives of the Advocates of Mandatory Incarceration

Inthe wake of increased incidents of youth involvement in criminalactivities, the pressure from the media, law practitioners, and thepublic agitated for the thinking of measures that would deter youthsfrom engaging in crime. While the policymakers were presented withdifferent alternatives, the echoes were followed by the enactment oflaws that enabled mandatory sentencing for young offenders. Thepremise of the approach has been controversial.

DeVries (2015) discusses that the measures undertaken by the criminaljustice system have been core to ensuring justice is served. Thegovernment is justified to provide retributive justice to all itscitizens. All the unlawful acts are punishable as stipulated in thelaw. Otherwise, the selective application of the law on youngoffenders will encourage the youth to engage in criminal activitiesbecause of the lack of the deterrent measures.

Black(2016) argues that sentencing the youth will deter other juveniles tocease committing crimes since they would be aware of therepercussions that await them. The authors state that the number ofminors engaging in criminal activities declined drastically followingthe implementation of mandatory sentencing between 1990 and 2010. Heacknowledges that California and Michigan witnessed low levels ofcrime among the youth. The youths admitted they chose to stay cleanbecause of the stringent laws and their experiences in correctionalfacilities. However, mandatory sentencing obstructs rehabilitation.

Correctionalfacilities help in containing dangerous offenders and keeping themaway from the society to avoid bad influence or harm to thecommunity. Ryans (2014) indicates that the nation is vulnerable tohardcore criminals and psychopaths. The duty of the government, inthis case, is to provide and ensure that every single citizen issafe. Black (2016) also discusses the majority of offenders havedrug-abuse related problems. Due to the high cost of rehabilitation,juvenile delinquents who are addicted to drugs can benefit fromresourceful government rehabilitation centers, overcome theiraddictions, and live a positive life.

ThePerspective of the Opponents Mandatory Incarceration

Centralto the restrictions on the use of the capital punishment andmandatory sentencing is the view that results in other adverseproblems such as failed deterrence, disproportionate minoritycontact, and mass re-arrests and actions, in addition to theviolation of basic rights of children. Indeed, it is noteworthy thatseveral rulings touching on juvenile sentences have taken place. Forinstance, in 1988, in the Thompsonv. Oklahoma,the Supreme Court lifted capital punishment on theoffenders agedbelow 16 years. In 1989, in Stanfordv. Kentucky,the court ruled that it was constitutional to impose adeath sentenceon juveniles who were aged 16 or 17 by the time of thecrime. Duringthe same period, in Penryv. Lynaughthecourt allowed the death penalty to be imposed on the intellectuallydisabled persons found to have committed the crimes. Later, in 2002,the rulings in Atkinsv. Virginia overturnedthe decision of imposing adeathsentence on these individuals(De Vries2015). Juveniles have intellectual immaturity that limits them frommaking responsible decisions. Based on this view, the court laterrealized that minors, based on their age, also qualify to beconsidered as intellectually immature persons because they cannotmake informed decisions on whether to commit or avoid a crime (Black,2016).

Besides,Puzzanchera and Kang (2014) discuss that incarceration of juvenileoffenders does not deter others from committing the same offenses. Amajority of criminals are hardened by the military-like treatmentthey are subjected to while serving their sentences in correctionalfacilities. Moreover, overcrowding has been a major problem in manyprisons and facilities. Rather than punishing the youth as adults,the government and the criminal justice system should invent othermeasures such as sensitizing the young people and empowering themeconomically. Similarly, De Vries (2015) noted that juvenileoffenderswho contact the incarceration facilities are often lefttraumatized due to the experience in prison to the extent that theycan no longer live a normal life.

Lastly,sentencing and incarceration of young offenders can have permanentconsequences. The incarcerated juveniles are unable to access qualityeducation that will assure them future prosperity and economicdevelopment. The quality of teaching that offenders are given incorrectional facilities cannot guarantee them a stable life, implyingthe likelihood of engaging in criminal activities when they arereleased remains high (Black, 2016).

Evidenceof Statistics and Studies

Statisticsand literature review have pointed out different ways that sentencingjuveniles as adults have far-reaching implications. The youthviolence has been one of the most popular topics among variousresearchers and criminal justice practitioners. Besides, many authorshave also been concerned about the efficiency and effectiveness ofthe criminal justice system, precisely, the administration ofjuvenile justice (Bachman &ampSchutt, 2014). Due to the conflictingoutcomes of different studies about the issue of young offenders,discussions abound on whether sentencing of minors should continuebeing implemented. Black (2016) discusses that the United States isthe leading country in the number of incarcerated and rearrestedjuvenile offenders, thanks to themandatory sentencing of juveniles asadults.

Sickmundand Puzzanchera (2014), based on data from the National Center forJuvenile Justice and the Department of Justice, suggest the rate ofcrime committed by juveniles is still high because of mandatorysentencing.

Accordingto Black (2016), juveniles have been involved in homicide crimes inU.S cities with large populations of over 100,000, representing asignificant increment of 10 percent, compared to the statistics ofbetween 2009 and 2010. The author further states that the populationof young offenders under the placement and the overall number ofjuveniles involved in criminal activities remained significant.However, Sickmund and Puzzanchera (2014) highlight that in 2010, over7,600 young offenders were held in jails meant to house adultscompared to about 2,000 in 1990—amounting to an annual increase of3 percent between 2004 and 2009 (Sickmund&ampPuzzanchera, 2014). Itis evident that the criminal justice system continues to implementsevere sanctions such as incarceration for young offenders,(Bachman&ampSchutt, 2014).

Nevertheless,Puzzanchera and Kang (2014) note the justice system has been keen toimplement retributive measures in its efforts to protect the societyfrom dangerous criminals. The move contributed immensely to thecriminal justice system hard stance on dealing with juvenileoffenders. For instance, according to the data compiled by theauthors, the number of young offenders convicted of murder from 1990to 2000 decreased. However, the number of juvenile sentencesincreasedby 216 percent. Therefore, the rate of sentencing has beenincreasing despite a remarkable decline in the number of young peopleinvolved in violent crimes.

Black(2016) discusses that the enactment of &quotget tough policies&quotin 1994 was attributed to bad media publicity and reactions thatjuveniles were responsible for a majority of violent crimes in theUnited States, a move that caused the criminal justice system toheighten punishments for young offenders and increase the number ofincarcerations. The confinement of juveniledelinquents in securefacilities does not obstruct the young people from engaging incriminal activities. Their research sought to determine theeffectiveness of &quotget tough policies&quot as mandatorysentencing on deterrence of crimes. Regardless of whether they arecountry-run, privately run or state run, juvenile correctionalfacilities such as camps, academies, youth services centers, andresidential facilities has not made any differences since youngoffenders have been recurrent problems (Bachman &ampSchutt, 2014).

Accordingto Bachman and Schutt (2014), a majority of the juveniles begincommitting petty offenses before they learn their trade and graduateto serious crimes as they enter their adulthood stages. Youngoffenders that have served their sentences (recidivist) account forthe highest number of delinquents, meaning the high likelihood ofjuvenile delinquents to carry on with their behaviors and repeattheir offenses regardless of the’ get tough sanctions’ imposed onthem by the criminal justice system.

Whiteheadand Lab (2013), who examined over 100,000 young offenders agedbetween 19 and 27 years old from South Carolina Department ofJuvenile Justice to determine the various factors on the criticalityof offenses, recidivism, and incarceration, established that thelevel of crimes ranged from low, moderate, high non-violent and veryhigh violent. The majority of the offenders were males (65percent).The author also noted that African Americans male offenderscommitted serious crimes, accounting for 51 percent, followed bywhites at 48 percent. The first offenders incarcerated for committingserious crimes were more likely to recidivate.

Ryans(2014) asserts that home placement is a more efficient and cheap wayof dealing with recidivism among young offenders. The chances of ayoung male and African Americans offenders committing violent crimesafter getting out of correctional facilities are higher compared tofemale, whites and Hispanic criminals.

Black(2016) examined prevention programs for adult corrections andjuvenile corrections and their significance in reducing the rate ofcrime. He notes that cognitive-behavioral programs such as educationprograms, family therapy programs, diversion project, andmulti-dimensional care accounted for the reduced crime rates andrecidivism. On the other hand, Puzzanchera and Kang (2014 )state thattough sanctions and restrictive programs such as scare straight andwilderness were established to increase recidivism and had nosubstantial effect on the rate of reoffending. Similarly, Sickmundand Puzzanchera (2014) determined that the harsh sanctions by thecourts to implement &quotget tough&quot persona that amounted tomandatory juvenile incarceration did not have any beneficial impacton young offenders. However, juvenile courts can play avital role inreducing the chances of youngdelinquents repeating crimes by applyingother correctional methods such as house arrests and parole.

Ryans(2014) found that after they are released from prison, about 40percent of young offenders are re-arrested for different offenses.The mandatory incarceration is adopted to ensure that the juvenilesappear in court and to protect the communities, yet the data revealssome young offenders are kept in detention centers for technicalprobation violations and status offenses. Bachman and Schutt (2014)also registered concerns about the stringent laws adopted in the1990s by claiming that the laws would &quotpredate&quot juveniles.They outline that prisons and correctional facilities have beenfacing various challenges such as overcrowding and the stringentregulations would be detrimental to treatment and rehabilitation ofthe young offenders who are confined. Nevertheless, keeping the youthin adult cells would further increase their violent behaviors throughbad influence from adult inmates. Black (2016) similarly argues thatincarceration of minors would cause severe mental complications,employment, education and economic impacts in the communities sinceyoung offenders have different levels of capacity and capabilitycompared to adults.

Insupport of the sentiments that incarceration is not the only solutionto the problem of juveniles crimes, Ryans (2014) notes that over 33percent of young offenders involved in criminal activities tend toage out of the crimes on their own. Besides, the baseless detentionof minors can have infinite complications on criminals` futurebehavior and delay their systematic and automatic process of agingout (Hockenberry &ampPuzzanchera, 2014). Incarceration of youngoffenders increases the possibility of offending or breaking the lawsthat recidivism (Puzzanchera&amp Kang, 2014). The authors alsosuggest that the government should adopt the most efficientcommunity-based initiatives, programs, and sanctions instead f thansentencing the young offenders as adults.

Theuse of boot camps has been beneficial to many juvenile delinquents.Boot camps encourage juvenile offenders to develop new skills,attitude, and self-discipline that help the offenders to stay awayfrom crime in the future. Minors in different boot camps showedenthusiasm about morals that they were taught, engaged in progressivephysical activities, and were more relaxed compared to youngoffenders placed under official custody and adult prisons(Sickmund&ampPuzzanchera, 2014). De Vries (2015) state that 44percent of the juvenile offenders released from adult prisons werere-arrested for committing new crimes compared to 50 percent releasedalternative justice systems. The robust programs did not have aremarkable impact on reducing the recidivism among young offenders asit was expected by the criminal justice system. He affirms thatmandatory sentencing is not the efficient way, if the criminaljustice system intends to help the youth to be law-abidingindividuals.

Moreover,the Black (2016) indicates that the criminal justice system hascreated a constrained relationship with minority communities in theUnited States. The minority groups are concerned that the criminaljustice systems have been intentionally targeting minoritycommunities compared to white communities. Mandatory sentencing robsthe juveniles the resilience to live a criminal free life. Thejuveniles are sentenced early in their life they do not accesseducation. When released, they cannot secure employment. Many arecondemned to the streets and where they are easily lured into drugsabuse and crime as their only means of survival.

Thedisproportionate minority contact incidences have been associatedbiased arrests and focusing the policing efforts on the minoritycommunities such as Alaska native, American Indian, African American,Latino or Native Hawaiian. However, this account has more often thannot only resulted in more and more debates regarding theplausibility. Even more plausible is that family, economic, as wellas community forces play a significant role in promotingdisproportionate incarceration as well as thearrest of ethnic as wellas racial minorities. Indeed, disproportionate representation ofminority youths in the juvenile justice systems cannot beoveremphasized and needs to be addressed. Juveniles systems should bemore assertive at requiring states to address disproportionateminority contact in the juvenile justice systems. This can beeffectively achieved through pushing states to make reforms,especially pertaining to the reduction of ethnic as well as racialdisparities. It should be outgoing at requiring that statesrevitalize their focus following key areas: establishment of bodiesthat would coordinate in overseeing efforts of gap reductions,identification of points that are crucial to decision making in thejuvenile justice systems collection and assessment of data so as toidentify disparity loopholes and coming up with plans to address theproblem. Therefore, the mandatory sentencing cannot deliver desirableresults.

Conclusionand Recommendations

Thepurpose of this paper was to establish whether sentencing of theyoung offenders can reduce the rate of juvenile related offenses.Many countries across the globe, including the United States, havebeen grappling with the problem of juvenile delinquents committingcrimes again even after long-term sentences in the criminal justicesystem. Despite the different interventions by organizations such theUnited Nations and Youth on Tract`s efforts in providing earlyinterventions, the number of young offenders serving long-termsentences has remained significant. According to the literature, itis evident that mandatory sentencing and the implementation of &quotgettough&quot policies adopted by the criminal justice systems in theUnited States have failed to address the problem (Ryon, Early, Hand &ampChapman, 2013). Many youths are still involved in violent crimes. Therate of recidivism also remains high. It is also apparent thatvarious policies and measures by the criminal justice systems havefailed to reduce the number of youths engaging inillegal activities.Some of the policies such as housing juvenile offenders together withadult criminalsand overcrowding have turned juvenile delinquents intohardened criminals. Moreover, the policies have created a bitterrelationship between the minority groups and the authorities as themajority of the victims of the criminal justice system are theminority communities. Young offenders that have served theirsentences (recidivist) account for the highest number of delinquents,meaning the high likelihood of juvenile delinquents to carry on withtheir behaviors and repeat their offenses regardless of the’ gettough sanctions’ imposed on them by the criminal justice system.Lastly, sentencing and incarceration of young offenders can havepermanent consequences.

Thereis a need for the criminal justice system to engage differentpractitioners and communities and come up with suitable policies thatwill help young offenders to stay away from crime. The new policiesshould also be geared towards ensuring the offenders do not engage incrime once they are released. The policies should be based on youthempowering juvenile offenders through education and adopting of goodmorals. The government should utilize and direct its resources intraining offenders on different skills and ensure constant supportonce the criminals are set free. Youth sensitization programs shouldalso be implemented in schools and churches to enable to abstain fromviolent crimes. The government should increase the financialallocation to allow criminal justice system put up other alternativecorrectional facilities to avoid the problem of overcrowding thathasled to the problem of young offenders emulating bad behaviors fromadult criminals and becoming hardcore criminals. The governmentshould put the welfare of the young generation first when enactinglegislations that are intended to punish offenders. Indeed, the youthpossess significant national economic potential that the societycannot afford towaste in prisons. The is the need for the criminaljustice systems to offer training programs that will guaranteeproductivity and independence to the juveniles once offenders arereleased from correctional facilities. Nevertheless, thedisproportionate minority contact lends itself as another challengethat the government should examine.

Leadershipis critical, too. The role of leadership in the success of criminaljustice institutions is indispensable, and all organizations havebeen encouraged to embrace it. The growing significance of leadershipis in tandem with the shift in paradigm in which the society nowperceives leaders and managers as the primary determinants ofinstitutional success. Under this new model, leaders are expected tobe overly cognizant of all the constraints of success, expeditingknowledge and skills to fulfill the goals, regardless of the natureof intervening circumstances. In essence, it contrasts with theconservationist paradigm that perceived success as mainly determinedby a collection of external factors, such as market and physicalconditions whose implications were seen to be beyond currentmanagerial interventions. While the idea that leadership is overlycritical to success has been widely appraised and reflected inpractice, the operation environment is dynamic, characterized by newemerging challenges that call for a rethinking of existingstrategies. Leadership needs to consider all the problems inherent inimplementing reforms within the juvenile justice systems and addressthem.


Bachman,R., &ampSchutt, R. K. (2014). Thepractice of research in criminology and criminal justice. ThousandOaks, CA: Sage

Black.J. 2016. Understandingthe Effectiveness of Incarceration on Juvenile Offending through aSystematic Review and Meta-Analysis: Do the &quotGet Tough&quotPolicies Work?.Doctoraldissertation. Nova Southeastern University. Retrieved from NSUWorks,Collegeof Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department ofJustice and Human Services.(2)

DeVries, S. L. A., Hoeve, M., Assink, M., Stams, G. J. J. M., &ampAsscher,J. J. (2015). Practitioner review: Effective indredients ofprevention programs for youth at risk JUVENILE RECIDIVISM ANDINCARCERATION 160 of persistent juvenile delinquency –recommendations for clinical practice. Journalof Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56(2),108 121.

Hockenberry,S., &ampPuzzanchera, C. (2014). JuvenileCourt Statistics 2011.Pittsburgh, PA: National Center for Juvenile Justice.

Ryans,J. P., Abrams, L. S., &amp Huang, H. (2014). First-time violentjuvenile offenders: probation, placement, and recidivism. SocialWork Research, 38(1),7-18.

Ryon,S. B., Early, J. W., Hand, G., &amp Chapman, S. (2013). Juvenilejustice interventions: System escalation and effective alternative toresidential placement.

Sickmund,M., &ampPuzzanchera, C. (eds). (2014). Juvenileoffenders and victims: 2014 National Report.Pittsburgh, PA: National Center for Juvenile Justice.Puzzanchera, C.&amp Kang, W. (2014). “Easy Access to FBI Arrest Statistics1994-2012”Online. Retrieved from

Whitehead,J. T., &amp Lab, S. P. (2013). Juvenilejustice: An introduction (8th Ed.). Waltham,MA: Anderson Publishing.