Opponents argue that many juveniles are now handled

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Opponents argue that many juveniles are now handled in adult court, and the results have been harmful for juveniles. They contend that juveniles actually receive fewer due process
Impact of Educational and Drug Prevention Programs protections in adult court than they would in juvenile court. Instead, juveniles are simply getting punishment in adult court, not treatment. Some critics have tried to deflect concerns about overly harsh sentences in the adult system by suggesting that youthful offenders receive some form of reduced sentences. The problem with suggestions of discounted sentencing for youths in adult court is that even discounted sentences might not be much of a bargain. For example, if a life sentence is equivalent to a sentence of 50 years, a 16-year-old processed in adult court and receiving a 50% reduction of an adult sentence would still stay in prison until age 41. Thus, even with a youth “discount,” youths processed in adult court would pay a heavy price to leave juvenile court where the maximum sentence is until age 21. Still another suggestion is to make a new juvenile court. Noriega (2000) suggests the creation of a new juvenile court that has two branches: one for children and one for adolescents. The children’s court would be rehabilitative and would presume that children do not have criminal responsibility. The adolescent court would presume partial culpability and would be more punitive than the children’s court. Waiver would be by judicial hearing only. There would be no prosecutorial or legislative waiver, and waiver would be only to the next step. Thus, children could only be waived to adolescent court, and only adolescents could be waived to adult court. Juveniles (children and adolescents) would not be allowed to waive their right to counsel. Noriega’s reasoning for this is that children and adolescents are generally presumed not competent. Since they are not allowed to enter into contracts, cannot legally drink alcohol, and cannot vote or drive (until late adolescence), it is a logical extension that they be barred from making the decision on whether to waive their rights in court.
Impact of Educational and Drug Prevention Programs An attractive feature of this proposal is that it offers a more complex and more realistic view of child development. Instead of assuming that one day a juvenile is a child and the next day he or she is an adult, it recognizes the intermediate stage of adolescence. The impact of this approach is also probably more realistic than the results that would emerge from abolishing juvenile court and letting adult court handle juvenile matters. Adult courts are likely not going to be as caring and protective or concerned about youth discounts as advocates for that approach hope.

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