Wednesday, 14-year-old Nathaniel Brazill was found guilty of second-degree murder for killing his English teacher last year. The charge usually carries a prison term of up to 30 years, but Brazille's defense team is hopeful the sentencing judge will be more lenient in this case. They have a powerful ally: Jeb Bush. "There is a different standard for children," the governor said after Brazill was sentenced. "There should be some sensitivity that a 14-year-old is not a little adult."
Are we seeing a drop because children are thinking more carefully about their crimes, knowing they could receive adult sentences? All but five states allow children of any age charged with murder to be tried as adults. The death penalty generally isn't an option at least not for defendants under the age of 16; The U. S. Supreme Court has ruled capital punishment unconstitutional for anyone who hasn't celebrated their 16th birthday. Some states, however, will consider 16- and 17-year-olds for the death penalty.
This pointer overrides the present juvenile system law completely which states that juvenile courts are necessary because children cannot be tried in the same manner as adults are tried.
A similar concept gets carried onto this issue as well.
It is believed that when children as young as 10-12 years of age commit a crime, they do not necessarily grow up to become criminals; yet when they are punished in the same manner as adults, the odds of this could somehow change.
One, their educational and employment prospects become significantly worse, thus giving them , and two, the stigma that they face might lead to an and may cause for repeated criminal behavior.
Arguments also run through that when an adult commits a crime and is punished for the same, he or she will remember throughout the period of his/her sentence, the reason why he/she has been punished.
In setting bail terms, sentences, or departing from sentencing guidelines, judges often favor whites over racial minorities, and wealthier defendants over the disadvantaged. A growing proportion of pre-trial release requires money bond,137) and blacks and Latinos are more likely than whites to be denied bail or to be imposed a bond that they cannot afford.138) Racial minorities are often assessed to be higher safety or flight risks because of their lower socioeconomic status, criminal records, and because of their race. Pre-trial detention increases the odds that defendants will accept less favorable plea deals.
The more white Americans attribute crime to people of color, the more they support punitive policies for adults and juveniles. Section V examines the factors that shape racial perceptions of crime. Section VI describes other racial differences in views and experiences that contribute to the racial gap in punitiveness.
To determine whether racial perceptions of crime also impact views of juvenile justice, Chiricos and colleagues analyzed a 2010 national survey.82) They found that racialized views of youth crime and victimization – in particular, the belief that black youth commit a larger proportion of juvenile crime than whites, or that whites are more likely than blacks to be victims of violent crime – led whites, but not blacks, to support punitive juvenile justice policies. The researchers concluded that “public support for punitive juvenile justice policies to some extent represents a desire to control other people’s children.”83) Whites who associate crime with racial minorities therefore support both punitive adult and juvenile justice policies.
Implicit racial biases also permeate the work of criminal justice professionals and influence the deliberation of jurors. When researchers administered the IAT to judges66) and capital defense lawyers,67) they found that the majority of white and a minority of black judges and counsel exhibited bias favoring whites over African Americans. Scholars have also explored the potential impact of implicit bias on the work of prosecutors68) and defense attorneys.69) Studies of case outcomes – including bail determinations, prosecutorial charging, and sentencing – also reveal that the work of criminal justice professionals is affected by a defendant’s race even after other relevant factors are controlled, as described later. Finally, studies of mock jurors have found that a defendant’s race has some impact on verdicts and sentencing.70) Mock jurors in one recent study even exhibited skin-color bias in how they evaluated evidence: they were more likely to view ambiguous evidence as indication of guilt for darker skinned suspects than for those who were lighter skinned.71)
Widespread racial perceptions of crime have helped to make the American criminal justice system more punitive towards people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Changes in sentence lengths, arrest rates, and prison admission – rather than crime rates – drove the 260% increase in incarceration rates between 1980 and 2010.189) Racialized views of crime have also created criminal justice policies and practices that disproportionately affect people of color. The heavy presence of racial minorities in jail, prison, and under community supervision cannot be fully explained by racial differences in crime rates.190) This section examines the toxic effects of a harsh and selective criminal justice system.
These figures should be interpreted with three important caveats. First, the wording of the most widely used survey questions exaggerates public punitiveness. For example, support for the death penalty diminishes significantly when respondents are given the option of sentencing someone to life without the possibility of parole.28) In fact, a recent poll found that the majority of Americans support life without parole over execution for someone convicted of murder.29) Punitive sentiment also recedes when questions are reworded to ask whether the courts are “too lenient” rather than “not harsh enough.”30) Second, public support for punitive policies is often based on inaccurate understanding of existing policies.31) For example, research on federal sentencing shows that juries’ sentencing recommendations are far below applicable sentencing guidelines.32) Finally, Americans remain supportive of rehabilitation as a correctional goal – especially for the young33) – and support addressing the root causes of crime rather than only responding to crime with punishment.34) In fact, the American public is pragmatic in its crime-control preferences35) – simultaneously supporting both punishment and rehabilitation rather than expressing ideological support for just one goal, although this finding is also affected by survey wording.36) Yet the racial divide in punitive sentiment persists even with more nuanced survey approaches.37)
Whites are also consistently more supportive of other forms of harsh punishment, although often the majority of both whites and blacks support these punitive measures. A national survey conducted between 2000 and 2001 showed that 70% of whites, in contrast to 52% of blacks, supported “three strikes” laws that compelled life sentences for people convicted of a third serious offense (see Figure 3).23) Asked if juveniles should be tried as adults, 60% of whites agreed, in contrast to 46% of blacks (see Figure 3).24)