Looking at the policies of other countries provides some perspective on criminal justice in the United States. An international study of 15 countries—Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England and Wales, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland—notes that all have special provisions for young criminals in their justice systems, although some (such as Denmark, Russia, and Sweden) have no special courts for juveniles. Table 1-1 depicts some of the differences among countries, showing the range in variability for the minimum age of criminal responsibility, the age at which full responsibility as an adult can be assumed, the type of court that handles young people committing crimes, whether such young people can be tried in courts that also try adults, the maximum length of sentencing for a juvenile, and policies regarding incarcerating juveniles with adults.
The United States was not alone in seeing a dramatic increase in violent crime by juveniles in the 1980s and early 1990s. Many European countries and Canada experienced increases in their rates of violent crime, particularly among juveniles (Hagan and Foster, 2000; Pfeiffer, 1998). It is difficult to compare rates across countries, because legal definitions of crime vary from country to country. For example, in Germany, assault is counted as a violent crime only if a weapon is used during the commission of the crime, whereas in England and Wales, the degree of injury to the victim determines whether or not an assault counts as a violent crime. Crime is also measured differently in each country. For example, the United States commonly relies on numbers of arrests to measure crime. In Germany, Austria, and Italy, among other countries, crime is measured by the number of cases solved by police (even if the offender has been apprehended) (Pfeiffer, 1998). Nevertheless, trends in juvenile violent crime appeared similar in many developed countries in the 1980s and early 1990s,2 although the rates were different.
The United States has a high violent crime rate—particularly for homicide—in comparison to other countries, although property crime rates, particularly burglary, are higher than U.S. rates in Canada, England and Wales, and The Netherlands (Hagan and Foster, 2000; Mayhew and White, 1997). In 1994, the violent crime arrest rate (includes homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, and rape) for 13- to 17-year-olds in the United
Essay on Juvenile Crime and Punishment
1045 Words5 Pages
Juvenile Crime and Punishment
The punishment of juvenile criminals, specifically those between the ages of 13 and 18, in the event that they commit crimes of murder, is not severe enough. Minors between these critical ages in the teenage life who commit crimes of murder should be prosecuted as adults in all situations and locations.
Teenagers in this age group do kill others, old and young alike. The rate at which juveniles were arrested for murder rose 177 percent between 1978 and 1993 (NBER.org). This shows that there is a need for stopping or at least slowing this trend in homicidal acts. Statistics clearly show that juviniles between the ages of 14 and 17 during the years of 1976 to 1994 are increasing in numbers…show more content…
In fact, many schools and communities have increased security in the hope that this security will deter students from violent actions like murder. Many families are severely affected as well. Just recently (October 22, 1999) Carla June Hochhalter, the mother of one of the students (Anne Marie Hochhalter) injured in the Columbine High School tragedy, committed suicide because of the stress caused by her daughter's condition. This woman could no longer bear the tragedy that was caused by two young men who weren't thinking how many lives they would shatter. Suicide is a terrible way to handle situations, as the gunmen and mother of the injured girl did, but it does happen.
What happens to teenagers who commit homicide now varies depending on the location of the incident, home state of the murder(s), and scope of the crime (e.g. were many killed or just one). After the Littleton shooting, Colorado lawmakers blocked votes on bills that would make it easier to carry concealed weapons, banned lawsuits against manufacturers, and pre-empted local gun laws (usatoday.com/96). In states like Texas, the Houston First District Court of Appeals upheld the Texas law that provides a punishment of life imprisonment upon conviction of capital murder by a certified juvenile, which is a young adult ages 12 through 17 (tjpc).
All states should have the same laws as Texas when it comes to juvenile murder