Juvenile cases tend to have a greater impact in terms of their jurisdiction. Mary O’Connell, a professor of Law at Northeastern University was interviewed and asked about the different ways in which juveniles are handled. She explains with the context of two separate murder cases which involved 14- year- olds who were sentenced to life without parole.
The courts since the 1980s try juveniles as adults which were due to the ‘tough on crime legislation’. However, since the year 2005, the jurisdiction got a bit easier making the court cancel death penalties for juveniles. One also observed the responsibility one criminal takes if he/she looks like an adult; the criminal is bound to own up for the punishment. For now, O’Connell thinks that oral arguments will also carry importance henceforth.
Considering the argument whether Juveniles and adults cannot be held at the same standards, O’Connell claims that though the judgments stand different because of differences in age, the crime committed cannot be ignored or ‘condoned’. Hence she says, “An adolescent is just not the same as someone who commits the same act at 35 or even 25 years of age”. There has also been a change in juvenile crime scenario. It has been on the decline hence lesser instances of the death penalty are witnessed.
Lastly, O’Connell was asked if the defendant’s remorsefulness affected the punishments for juveniles who committed violent crimes. To this, she said that ‘remorsefulness’ did play a role in the passing of judgements. She and her students are also conducting research on recidivism rates which is actually expensive as it involves tracking someone’s records. She also observed that if a juvenile does not commit another crime for 18 months, he/ she is less likely to recommit another crime in the future.
In the cases of Juveniles, teenagers get into these criminal records without realising their consequences. If they are constantly guided and looked after, they will learn to understand the proper judgement of their own actions.