Law Offices of Jess C. Bedore III - Certified Specialist in Criminal Law
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Time in adult prisons can be detrimental to young offenders

There are juvenile detention centers and special programs designed specifically for young offenders, but that doesn't mean they're always used. Thousands of children have been tried, convicted and sentenced as if they were adults. This has even happened to some children who are just 8 years old. These young offenders then land in adult jails and prison systems.

Stats show that as many as 10,000 minors are being held with adults right now. Some critics have said this is both cruel and unusual, pointing out that being held with adults means:

-- Young offenders are more likely to consider suicide. Some studies say the risk goes up 36 times if they're put in adult prisons.-- These young offenders are five times as likely to be victimized by sexual assault while in prison.-- Children could have mental illnesses that have not yet been identified.-- Children in prison may act aggressively, perhaps prolonging their own sentences, because they have a tendency to be impulsive.-- Even children who do get out could be traumatized for life.

It is legal for courts to try children as adults, and it continues to happen despite the risks and downsides outlined above. This shows why it's so important for minors who have been accused of crimes to know all of their legal options. This is true even in cases where jail time is expected. Remember, going to court to fight for a minor's rights isn't just about fighting the charges. It is equally important to fight for a fair, just sentence that actually fits the situation and won't be cruel or unusual.

Source: EJI, "Children in Prison," accessed Dec. 23, 2016

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