by Cheryl Corley, National Desk, Chicago
All Things Considered
December 3, 2021
Prosecutors charged the 15-old-year accused of killing four students and injuring others at a Michigan High School as an adult. Thousands of children are tried or incarcerated as adults each year.
For nearly 30 years, juvenile crime and the number of juveniles actually prosecuted have sharply declined. But this week’s deadly school shooting in Michigan brings into sharp focus some deep controversy surrounding juvenile justice. Should young people accused of crimes be charged as adults? NPR’s Cheryl Corley reports.
… Jeffrey Butts, the director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says whether or not to charge a juvenile as an adult depends on what society is trying to accomplish. “If it’s just supposed to send a message to that kid and all other people that we take this seriously and we are not going to stand for this behavior therefore we are punishing you, than it accomplishes that purpose,” says Butts. However, he says, if the idea is to improve public safety or prevent future crime, decades of research shows that is rarely the result.