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Juveniles being adjudicated (tried) as adults - Essay Example
In the recent landmark case of Roper v Simmons, the US Supreme Court declared and upheld by a 5-4 decision that the death penalty cannot be awarded to individuals less than 18 years old at the time that their crime was committed. The justices declared that applying the death penalty to juvenile offenders, regardless of their crime or offense, was cruel and unusual punishment by virtue of the offender's status as a minor or juvenile ".whose culpability or blameworthiness is diminished, to a substantial degree, by reason of youth and immaturity"…
The court reiterated that juveniles by virtue of their age and immaturity have less culpability than adult offenders of the same crime and their punishment should be mitigated by this diminished culpability.
This notion of diminished culpability and immaturity which gave rise to the court's decision in the above case echoes the very rationale behind the juvenile justice system in the country. In most cases of juvenile crimes, juvenile offenders are tried and sentenced in juvenile courts which provide for softer sentences such as probation in a juvenile center, and are exempted from the penitentiary system applied to adult offenders. In our juvenile justice system, punishment for juvenile offenders is largely focused on rehabilitation rather than retribution. The general logic is that, since the offender is still young, he is still very susceptible to reform and thus he must be given greater opportunity to reform and rehabilitate himself. In general, juvenile offenders may be confined in juvenile centers until the age of 21, after which they are released. ...