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Should Young Offenders Be Tried in Adult Courts

The contemporary shift from the rehabilitative approach to a more serious ‘punitive’ approach has been accounted to the rapid rise in crimes involving young offenders as well as to toughen the laws and policies enacted to deal with crime. Such a transformation was shaped in the early seventies and eventually caught up in the eighties and early nineties when the community at large, started to face extreme negative consequences because of a rapid rise in crimes during those periods and the subsequent inability of the courts or the justice system to prevent or reduce these crimes. Such a need to prevent the rapidly rising crime rate led to the development of laws and policies which included the young offenders who were involved in violent crimes to be allowed to be tried in adult courts. Thus factors such as the urgency to prevent the rapidly rising crime rates and to reinforce the public faith in the justice system led to the development of a system whereby the young offenders could be tried in adult courts.
The phenomenon of trying young offenders in adult courts has been a topic of much debate in the past couple of decades. Various researchers have conducted empirical studies centered on studying the impact of such a trend on the young offenders and it has been observed that it is a serious issue which has the potential to negatively impact the lives of those who have been a victim of such a practice. These studies have revealed that there are varying consequences on the youth who have been tried in adult courts, most of them negative in nature. Such a practice was widely criticized by the researchers and vehemently defended by the lawmakers who insisted that the practice was implemented in order to act tough on criminals regardless of age and bring down the crime rates. Researchers argue that the principal aim of such a transformation in the juvenile justice system intended to toughen up on criminals hardly helped in achieving desirable results and had no significant impact whatsoever on reducing the crime rate.