Looking at the policies of other countries provides some perspective on criminal justice in the United States. An international study of 15 countries—Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England and Wales, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland—notes that all have special provisions for young criminals in their justice systems, although some (such as Denmark, Russia, and Sweden) have no special courts for juveniles. Table 1-1 depicts some of the differences among countries, showing the range in variability for the minimum age of criminal responsibility, the age at which full responsibility as an adult can be assumed, the type of court that handles young people committing crimes, whether such young people can be tried in courts that also try adults, the maximum length of sentencing for a juvenile, and policies regarding incarcerating juveniles with adults.
The United States was not alone in seeing a dramatic increase in violent crime by juveniles in the 1980s and early 1990s. Many European countries and Canada experienced increases in their rates of violent crime, particularly among juveniles (Hagan and Foster, 2000; Pfeiffer, 1998). It is difficult to compare rates across countries, because legal definitions of crime vary from country to country. For example, in Germany, assault is counted as a violent crime only if a weapon is used during the commission of the crime, whereas in England and Wales, the degree of injury to the victim determines whether or not an assault counts as a violent crime. Crime is also measured differently in each country. For example, the United States commonly relies on numbers of arrests to measure crime. In Germany, Austria, and Italy, among other countries, crime is measured by the number of cases solved by police (even if the offender has been apprehended) (Pfeiffer, 1998). Nevertheless, trends in juvenile violent crime appeared similar in many developed countries in the 1980s and early 1990s,2 although the rates were different.
The United States has a high violent crime rate—particularly for homicide—in comparison to other countries, although property crime rates, particularly burglary, are higher than U.S. rates in Canada, England and Wales, and The Netherlands (Hagan and Foster, 2000; Mayhew and White, 1997). In 1994, the violent crime arrest rate (includes homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, and rape) for 13- to 17-year-olds in the United
Show MoreWhat Happened to Juvenile Justice?
There is a great deal of controversy over the trying and sentencing of juvenile offenders today. Many will argue that because the severity of Juvenile crimes has risen, the severity of its consequences should rise; however, no matter how serious the crime is, juvenile offenders tried as adults receive far worse than they deserve. The majority of Juveniles tried as adults are hardly given any form of human rights. Adult jails are not the environment children should have to experience, especially those sentenced for misdemeanors and nonviolent crimes. There are other solutions to reducing juvenile crime. It does not take adult court to straighten out kids on the wrong path.…show more content…
Police records show that anyone sentenced to time in an adult jail, will most-likely return in a short period of time. Most reports and investigations, such as Amnesty International’s, show that juveniles sentenced to adult jails are more prone to violence than they would be outside of jail. Everyday, these children would have to defend themselves, and go through a violent struggle to get a moments worth of peace and freedom.
The other adult inmates are not the only problem with giving juveniles adult sentences. The facilities itself are not the right environment for a juvenile. In a study conducted by the US Department of Justice, a Baltimore detention center (in which juveniles were held) restricted showers, lacked proper mental health services, and served inadequate food. It is at this point that people must realize that sentencing juveniles to adult prisons is not only doing more harm than good, but it is simply unhealthy.
It should be obvious that the conditions of and adult jail are far too extreme for any juvenile to handle, but there are some that argue that most juvenile crimes today are severe enough to meet adult charges. Today, more youths are involved in gangs, murders, and assaults than history has shown. So, if these children are capable of committing adult crimes, shouldn’t they face adult consequences? It seems that the severity of juvenile crime has risen so much, that it is