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Juvenile Proceedings

Autor:   •  December 21, 2016  •  Research Paper  •  1,815 Words (8 Pages)  •  148 Views

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Stephanie O’Connor

Mihaela Serban

Law and Society

December 23, 2016

History of Trying Juveniles as Adults:

Violation of Equal Protection and Due Process

        In the 1760’s an english lawyer by the name of William Blackstone identified two requirements necessary to hold someone accountable for a crime. The first requirement is that the individual must have vicious will, or the intent to go and commit a crime. An individual must also have committed an unlawful act. If there is a lack of will or the act, then no crime has been committed. Blackstone stated that children are not capable of committing a crime due to the fact that they are too young to fully understand their actions.

        In the nineteenth century, the first juvenile court was established in the United States, where the cases were treated as non criminal acts. The main purpose of the courts was to guide a juvenile offenders in a direction that would allow them to become law-abiding citizens. Juvenile courts, however, were allowed to order that young offenders be removed from their homes and then be placed into juvenile institutions for reform as part of a rehabilitation program. In the 1960’s, the United States Supreme Court had heard numerous cases that would evidently change the proceedings in the juvenile courts system.

The landmark United States Supreme Court case of Kent v. United States in 1966 was one of the first to actually question the adequacy of the juvenile court system. Morris Kent was first introduced to this system at the age of fourteen in regards to breaking into several homes as well as an attempt to snatch a purse. Two years after these events, Kent’s fingerprints were discovered inside the residence of a woman who was not only robbed but also raped. After Kent was detained, he was interrogated and eventually admitted to having some involvement. His lawyer order a psychiatric evaluation of Kent, which resulted in a conclusion of his client suffering from a mental disorder.

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This followed a recommendation for Kent to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital for further analysis. However, the judge of the juvenile court had the authority to “waive jurisdiction”, which would transfer Kent’s case into a criminal court, and ultimately be tried as an adult. This would also not provide any protections that would normally be provided through the juvenile courts. The lawyer wanted to prove that his client would benefit more from a rehabilitation facility during hospital treatment, unfortunately, the courts did not respond.

        Kent was then prosecuted in the district court. A motioned was placed to dismiss the charges because a full investigation had not been performed before the waiving of jurisdiction, which is a requirement of the juvenile courts. Without a proper hearing, ability to access counsel, or the opportunity to examine the records before the waiver was placed, this is clear violation of due process. Kent was eventually found guilty, with a sentence of thirty to ninety years to be served in prison. The district court maintained the sentence although no significant reason for the waiver was provided by the court judge.


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