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Children Should Remain in Juvenile Court - Recommends Reports of CDC & MacArthur Foundation

From the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Association:

Recently, organizations from the MacArthur Foundation to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examined this issue and reached the same conclusion: Transferring children to the adult system is a lose-lose situation for the child and society, and should be done sparingly.

Confining children with adult felons places them at far greater risk of harm than confining them in juvenile facilities. Such youth are far more likely to be sexually assaulted, to be beaten, to be attacked with a weapon, and to commit suicide than those in juvenile facilities.In adult facilities, there are also much more limited educational and counseling opportunities to rehabilitate children so that they can successfully re-enter society. Even if juveniles are not confined with adults, the stigma of an adult conviction will still follow a child through life. While juvenile records are accorded some measure of confidentiality, adult convictions are not. Adult convictions place significant barriers to educational and occupational opportunities in young people's paths -- making it much more difficult for them to get jobs or college degrees. Additionally, trying youth as adults actually harms public safety rather than promoting it. No Enhancement for Public Safety - A report issued last month by the CDC's Task Force on Community Preventive Services found "strong evidence that juveniles transferred to the adult justice system have greater rates of subsequent violence than juveniles retained in the juvenile-justice system." The task force concluded that transferring youth to the adult criminal system was "counterproductive for the purpose of reducing juvenile violence and enhancing public safety. "When terrible events happen, it is natural for us to seek retribution. When the offender is a child, it is tempting to ignore the "technicality" of age and focus on the child's "adult" actions in fashioning the punishment. However, the latest scientific research into the physiology of the human brain has shown what parents -- and the early juvenile court proponents -- intuitively knew all along: The parts of the brain in which decision-making and impulse control are focused are not yet fully developed in teenagers. Young people often make foolish decisions -- not because they are evil and beyond redemption, but because they are young. Dealing with the tragic consequences of the young person's poor judgment is exactly why the juvenile court was established.Let's not turn back the clock and throw away our children's future.

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