Treating juveniles as juveniles

By Shane Vander Hart 

Sitting eating lunch after a couple of meetings at our SOY West office (Panera Bread on Westown Pkwy in West Des Moines), I just read an interesting article in the Boston Globe making the case against mandatory adult charges for juveniles accused of witness intimidation.

In fact, the research finds that juveniles who went through the adult system were more likely to go back into the system after their release than their counterparts who remained in juvenile jurisdiction. This may well be due to labeling these youth as serious criminals or limiting their post-release options because they have an adult criminal record. Whatever the reasons, the bottom line is clear: Incarcerating juveniles as adults does not deter future criminal behavior.

A special task force supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has looked carefully at the available research and recently recommended against the practice of subjecting juveniles to adult sentencing, finding that such practices led to an increase in violence.

“As a means of reducing juvenile violence, strengthened juvenile transfer policies are counterproductive,” the task force concluded.

There are other concerns as well. Adolescents’ brains are still developing, giving them less ability to think like adults and consider the ramifications of criminal behavior.

I have never seen much good come out of juveniles being treated as adults, and I do believe that while it makes us feel like we are being tough on crime it is largely ineffective at stopping the very crime we want to see reduced. What do you think? What role do you think the Church should have in this conversation? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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2 Responses to “Treating juveniles as juveniles”


  1. 1 Devon June 1, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    Shane,

    Great Info!!!

    This show up in my Google news search today.

    Awesome!!
    Devon

  2. 2 Shane Vander Hart June 4, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    You are welcome Devon.


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