There have been many flaws with this system. First and foremost there was no consideration given to the age or culpability of the young offender. Secondly, most juveniles and their parents have never been involved with the criminal justice system and therefore, in the early stages of the juveniles arrest, were unprepared to give proper guidance and protection to the young offender. Thirdly, the adult criminal justice system requires that a juvenile offender be held in county jails while they await trial. These county jails are not designed to accommodate young offenders, keeping them safe from harm, continuing their education and providing them with the support systems for their health and protection.
Thanks to the hard work of organizations like the Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition laws that allow for the transfer of juveniles into adult prisons have been challenged and amended. In addition the Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition is working diligently to change laws to allow for legal representation of juveniles at the very beginning of an investigation to ensure that the juvenile and his/her parents are informed and aware of the criminal justice process and the youthful offender is protected.
National organizations such as the Equal Justice Initiative, Campaign For Youth Justice and others, continue to inform the public on the cost and impact of the laws that have thrown away kids in the adult prison system.
Thank you for your tireless efforts....may we see the day when we once again value the life of a kid and the opportunity we have to transform that life to something positive and productive.
Here is an excerpt from a recent editorial and the link to read the entire article:
The Washington Post Opinions
"Yet, the report notes, citing figures that are a few years old, there are some “100,000 youth who are placed in adult jails and prisons each year.” When minors are thrown into adult jails and prisons, often simply to await trial, they don’t get the structure and educational opportunities necessary for growth or rehabilitation. They are also extremely vulnerable to harm. “More than any other group of incarcerated persons,” a federal panel reported in 2009, “youth incarcerated with adults are probably at the highest risk for sexual abuse.”