Mobile County Criminal Law Attorney

juvenile detention lawyer

Does Jail Time Actually Help Juvenile Criminals?

It makes sense to want to teach a young person a lesson when they’ve done something wrong, but is there a limit? Some states are creating harsher penalties to prevent these youth from becoming repeat offenders, but is this approach creating the desired outcome in the lives of these young people when they grow up?

The United States jails more juveniles than any other developed nation in the world, with roughly 70,000 children and teenagers detained on any given day. According to various research studies, this is a bad idea and doesn’t work.

Does Jail Time Help Juvenile Offenders?

One of the assumptions behind giving juvenile offenders harsher penalties is that it will lower the overall rate of juvenile crimes. However, there are arguments on both sides make regarding the effectiveness of stricter court system, and whether they lower crime rates. In fact, some research shows that it is harmful to the youth being punished.

One paper published by two economists in The Quarterly Journal of Economics found that incarcerating children and young adults under the age of 19 reduces the chance that they will graduate from high school, and increases the probability that they will go on to commit more crimes at some point in the future.

Two researchers studied the juvenile justice system in the Chicago area and found that some judges were more likely to recommend detention than others. The results showed that the young people who were locked up were 13 percent less likely to graduate from high school, and 22 percent more likely to become repeat offenders than those who were given alternative punishment such as home monitoring.

Unfortunately, detention centers, both juvenile and adult centers, are places where people make connections which can lead to more negative outcomes upon release.

How Juvenile Cases Are Handled Differently

One of the biggest differences between adult and juvenile cases in the criminal justice system is that juvenile cases will never be heard before a jury. Instead, a juvenile court judge will hear all the evidence in a case, listen to arguments from the attorneys, and hear witness testimony before they decide, and give a sentence. In other words, the fate of your child could depend on the decision of a single judge if they are charged with certain juvenile offenses such as underage drinking, drug possession, assault, or shoplifting.

Certifying Minors as Adults

In some cases, the court might want to treat a minor as an adult. This process has some limitations. A minor must be between the ages of 14 and 17, be accused of committing a crime that would result in a prison sentence for an adult, and there must be probable cause showing that the minor committed the crime.

The state is required to notify the juvenile, their legal guardians, and their attorney of a request to have a minor tried as an adult. When a motion is filed, there will be a study to determine the minor’s suitability with regards to their health, education, maturity, and support network. This is a separate hearing from the criminal proceedings.

If the court does decide that a child will be treated as an adult, they will face stiffer penalties for the crime and may be subject to imprisonment. Since it’s already been determined that youth detention isn’t effective, this is not a desirable choice if you have a child that has been accused of a serious crime.

Speak with a Qualified Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney

If your child is facing criminal charges, you need skilled legal representation to protect their rights and freedom. At Darley Law, LLC, we are fierce advocates for children and teenagers accused of crimes. Our legal team has extensive experience defending criminal cases in the federal, state, and juvenile system.

We can also work to have a juvenile record expunged so that it won’t follow your child through their adult life. Handled correctly, your child’s juvenile record can be suppressed so that it is only visible within the judicial system.

Don’t leave your child’s future and liberty to chance. Contact our Mobile office now at 251.441.7772 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation.


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