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Teenagers in Prison

What do we do with teenagers who commit crimes? The North Carolina legislature is considering transferring the authority  to try 13,14, and 15 year old children as adults for certain felonies from the judges to the prosecutors. If this bill was passed, it would be a major step back for the judicial system. This discretion should remain with the court. The sentencing of a juvenile to adult prison constitutes the crossing of the Rubicon for that young person. In past articles, prisonpath.com has discussed the violence that teenagers face in prison. There will be teenagers sentenced to adult prison by judges for violent crimes, but it should be remembered that most teenagers who are incarcerated have not committed violent crimes. The awesome decision of where to send the young person should remain with the court.


Bill could send more minors to adult jails

 By: Charlotte Observer

Any N.C. legislator seriously favoring the part of House Bill 217 giving prosecutors authority to send children as young as 13 to adult criminal court should see last week’s “Rock Center” on NBC. What happens to many juveniles in the adult criminal justice system was on stark display.

In jails and prisons intended for adults, juveniles are at great risk of harm – including sexual assault. And as the “Rock Center” report highlighted, even when officials try to protect minors from the adults – separating the youths from older inmates by placing them in solitary confinement – the consequences are often mentally damaging and sometimes deadly. Youngsters in adult facilities are 36 times more likely to commit suicide than those in youth detention centers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

That reality is part of what has driven most states to set the age that young people are automatically treated as adults in the justice system at 18. North Carolina, unfortunately, remains one of two – the other is New York – that sets the age at 16.

Wisely, though, a bipartisan group of N.C. lawmakers had been working to change that. Last year, a bill was introduced that would incrementally raise the age from 16 to 18 that young people are automatically tried as adults for misdemeanors. The bill stalled in a Senate appropriations committee but was moved to a Legislative Research Committee to review the steps needed to implement the policy change. That was considered a good sign.

So we read with dismay about a bill filed this month that’s a backward step. The bill gives prosecutors the discretion to transfer to adult court the cases of 13-, 14-, and 15-year-olds charged with certain felonies. Current law leaves that discretion to judges – and for good reason. Judges are neutral arbiters in court cases; prosecutors by the very nature of their jobs are not.

Right now, 90 percent of the children serving time in adult jails and prisons nationwide are not there for the most serious crimes. They’re not getting the rehabilitative services that can help them when they get out and lessen the chances of their re-arrest. Those adult facilities are warehouses for future criminals, and sometimes torture chambers for teens whose lack of judgment and emotional development led them to make bad decisions.

Two judges last week publicly decried the proposed change. Writing in the (Raleigh) News & Observer, Beth S. Dixon, the District Court judge for N.C. Judicial District 19 C, and Marcia H. Morey, the Chief District Court judge of the 14th Judicial District, said: “This proposal would send more children into the adult criminal justice system when study after study has shown that this path substantially increases the likelihood that a youth will reoffend… This proposal is a bad return on investment. When more youths end up in the adult criminal justice system, taxpayers pay more. Though the juvenile justice system, by providing rehabilitative services and other programs, requires higher front-end costs, the long-term consequences of using the adult system are far greater….”

Juveniles should be held accountable for their crimes. The N.C. bill considered last year didn’t go easy on minors who committed serious crimes. Judges still had the discretion to transfer to adult court cases involving felonies by those 13 and younger and other cases involving 16- and 17-year-olds.

Yet the judgment deficit in young people is real. That’s why states passed laws raising the drinking age to 21 and restricting teen drivers. It’s a reason North Carolina should raise the age it automatically tries juveniles as adults too. It is certainly a reason N.C. lawmakers should reject any bill that could send more 13-year-olds into the adult system.

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11 Responses to Teenagers in Prison

  1. PrisonPath March 29, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    By Kevin–What are those felonies that NC is considering?

  2. PrisonPath March 31, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    By Bob–With the rise of gangs along with the general decline of morality it is sad to see a punish rather than rehabilitate mentality. Add to that the tightness of funds along with the big business of prison and we will see more lives wasted. As always it is the power of God, the Love of Christ, that offers hope to all, in prison or not.

  3. PrisonPath April 3, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

    terri– Next we might send kindergartners into a kinder prison, to teach them a lesson. Bah.

  4. PrisonPath April 18, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    By Brent–If you do the crime,then you need to do the time,if we don’t punish then we send a message that it is ok to commit crimes if you are a teenager and get away with it.

    • Lawrence December 24, 2014 at 8:11 am #

      When it comes to a physical crime scene and the retusling forensics, investigators can ascertain that a crime took place and gather the necessary evidence. When it comes to digital crime, the evidence is often at the byte level, deep in the magnetics of digital media, initially invisible from the human eye. That is just one of the challenges of digital forensics, where it is easy to destroy crucial evidence, and often difficult to preserve correctly.For those looking for an authoritative guide, Digital Evidence and Computer Crime is an invaluable book that can be used to ensure that any digital investigation is done in a formal manner, that can ultimately be used to determine what happened, and if needed, used as evidence in court.Written by Eoghan Casey, a leader in the field of digital forensics, in collaboration with 10 other experts, the book’s 24 chapters and nearly 800 pages provide an all-encompassing reference. Every relevant topic in digital forensics is dealt with in this extraordinary book. Its breadth makes it relevant to an extremely large reading audience: system and security administrators, incident responders, forensic analysts, law enforcement, lawyers and more.In the introduction, Casey writes that one of the challenges of digital forensics is that the fundamental aspects of the field are still in development. Be it the terminology, tools, definitions, standards, ethics and more, there is a lot of debate amongst professionals about these areas. One of the book’s goals is to assist the reader in tackling these areas and to advance the field. To that end, it achieves its goals and more.Chapter 1 is appropriately titled Foundation of Digital Forensics, and provides a fantastic overview and introduction to the topic. Two of the superlative features in the book are the hundreds of case examples and practitioners’ tips. The book magnificently integrates the theoretical aspects of forensics with real-world examples to make it an extremely decipherable guide.Casey notes that one of the most important advances in the history of digital forensics took place in 2008 when the American Academy of Forensic Sciences created a new section devoted to digital and multimedia sciences. That development advanced digital forensics as a scientific discipline and provided a common ground for the varied members of the forensic science community to share knowledge and address current challenges.In chapter 3 Digital Evidence in the Courtroom Casey notes that the most common mistake that prevents digital evidence from being admitted in court is that it is obtained without authorization. Generally, a warrant is required to search and seize evidence. This and other chapters go into detail on how to ensure that evidence gathered is ultimately usable in court.Chapter 6 Conducting Digital Investigations is one of the best chapters in the book. Much of this chapter details how to apply the scientific method to digital investigations. The chapter is especially rich with tips and examples, which are crucial, for if an investigation is not conducted in a formal and consistent manner, a defense attorney will attempt to get the evidence dismissed.Chapter 6 and other chapters reference the Association of Chief Police Officer’s Good Practice Guide for Computer-Based Electronic Evidence as one of the most mature and practical documents to use when handling digital crime scenes. The focus of the guide is to help digital investigators handle the most common forms of digital evidence, including desktops, laptops and mobile devices. The Good Practice Guide is important in that digital evidence comes in many forms, including audit trails, application, badge reader and ISP and IDS logs, biometric data, application metadata, and much more. The investigator needs to understand how all of these work and interoperate to ensure that they are collecting and interpreting the evidence correctly.Chapter 9 Modus Operandi by Brent Turvey is a fascinating overview of how and why criminals commit crimes. He writes that while technologies and tools change, the underlying psychological needs and motives of the offenders and their associated criminal behavior has not changed through the ages.Chapter 10 Violent Crime and Digital Evidence is another extremely fascinating and insightful chapter. Casey writes that whatever the circumstances of a violent crime, information is key to determining and thereby understanding the victim-offender relationship, and to developing an ongoing investigative strategy. Any details gleaned from digital evidence can be important, and digital investigators must develop the ability to prioritize what can be overwhelming amounts of evidence.Chapter 13 Forensic Preservation of Volatile Data deals with the age-old forensic issue: to shut down or not to

  5. PrisonPath April 23, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    By Bill–Anyone need a Job Search Guide for yourselves or others, please let me know. I will email you our free Guide. Also, let’s connect directly in LinkedIn.

  6. PrisonPath April 24, 2013 at 1:26 am #

    By Brent–Some of us need the love of Christ in prison.

  7. PrisonPath May 20, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    By Hudythe–Maybe, just maybe society is making way for the more important members (in their view) to lead and take part in spoils society has to offer. This happens in societies that are absence of morality and humanity and consideration for ALL human beings.

  8. PrisonPath May 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    By Bruce–Here’s a Thought, Did Any one think of askin’ the kids what started it all for them and ask them to sell their stories “To Help People Understand How Bad the average teen environment is & locate the common toxic factors in all the stories”. Not only would they earn some $ from royalties & Gain a sense of accomplishment a goal, an achievement & In the process even a trade in the Arts & We Learn though their pain how to stop these Toxic environments just by bein’ Human and reading a book,,,People would change over time I believe & have a purpose Pain without a purpose is just more abuse.

  9. Omar December 24, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

    I told my grhdemotanr how you helped. She said, “bake them a cake!”


  1. Teenagers in Adult Prisons: The Ramifications Visitor Information & Inmate Locator- PrisonPath - May 22, 2013

    […] are sentenced to hard time in adult prisons. What do we do with teenagers who commit crimes? The North Carolina legislature is considering transferring the authority  to try 13,14, and 15 year old children as adults for […]

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