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Why teenagers don't belong in adult court, adult jail

At our law firm, we always take a rehabilitative approach toward juvenile criminal defendants. We simply don't believe that they belong in an adult court or an adult prison -- even if they're teenagers.

Let's talk about why.

First, it seems like every teenager alive has heard that you "can't be tried as an adult if you're under 16 years of age." That's a myth. In thirteen states, there's absolutely no minimum age at which a child can be tried as an adult for a crime -- and children as young as eight have been prosecuted that way. However, the pervasive nature of that myth is just one way of illustrating that fact that children don't really understand the nuances of the legal system. They're massively unprepared to fully understand risks and consequences.

In addition, studies have shown that juvenile defendants are so unable to assist in their own defenses in any meaningful way that they'd be declared incompetent to stand trial if they were adults. They're extraordinarily sensitive to peer pressure -- which makes them especially vulnerable to police pressure. That has resulted in both false confessions and confessions that might as well have been forced.

Finally, prison is no place for any developing juvenile. Many juvenile defendants lag behind their peers socially and mentally -- making them hardly equipped to handle the situations they may face among adults in prison. In addition, adult prisons offer little in the way of educational opportunities and rehabilitation for a developing mind.

If your child made a foolish mistake or did something wrong in a moment of impulse or anger, don't trust the prosecution to treat the case with any compassion due to your child's age. Protecting your child's future means protecting your child against the kind of prosecutorial overreach and zealousness that is inclined to put a child behind bars instead of finding appropriate rehabilitative methods of dealing with the situation.

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