In Wisconsin, concern has been voiced with an increasing trend of trying juveniles in adult courts. With particular regard to sex crimes, data suggests that minors convicted as adults are more than 30 percent likely to commit further crimes upon release from incarceration. Percentages of crimes recommitted are said to be much lower for minors tried in juvenile court.
In 2011, the United States Supreme Court reminded policy makers and court officials that children should not be treated as miniature adults. Often, their understanding of particular lines of questioning lacks the maturity needed to offer sound and correct answers. One juvenile conviction was recently overturned after it was determined that the 16-year-old involved lacked the intelligence and maturity to understand the facts as presented by interrogating officials.
Those speaking out against trying juveniles as adults have stated they do not wish to diminish the negative impact juvenile crime has on its victims. Rather, they argue that minors cannot be held accountable for their wrongdoings by immersing them in an adult criminal justice system that is unequipped to appropriately address their situations. Counseling and education are often integral to a minor child’s ability to assimilate back into society as a productive member after serving a sentence in juvenile detention.
The adult criminal justice system in Wisconsin is said to lack the resources and programs needed to provide this type of rehabilitation. Whether charged with sex crimes or other serious offenses, a juvenile (or any adult so charged) can request a meeting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to determine how to build a strong defense. An attorney will fight to protect the interests of a defendant in all interactions with law enforcement authorities and court officials.
Source: sheboyganpress.com, “Treating kids as adults unwise“, Casey Hoff, Aug. 20, 2016