Depending on the circumstances, Texans under 18 facing criminal trials may be charged as juveniles or adults. Unfortunately, several negative consequences can attach to minors tried as adult defendants.
Adult penalties kick in for juvenile crimes
The justice system’s punishment and rehabilitation standards differ for juveniles and adults. For example, the Supreme Court of the United States outlawed death penalty sentences for people under 18, and mandatory minimums apply in certain drug-related crimes committed by adults.
More difficulties sealing adult records
In most cases, juvenile crimes can be sealed when involved parties turn 18 or 21. If, however, the court tries a minor as an adult, then it is more difficult to seal or expunge documents down the road. In fact, it may remain part of the public record for the rest of an individual’s life.
Fewer rehabilitation and service options
Individuals in youth facilities can access more rehabilitative options than adults who are behind bars. As a result, their chances of going on to live healthy and productive lives increase. Conversely, youthful individuals tried as adults may face excessively long sentences.
Additionally, adult lockups are not set up to accommodate youths. Certain services readily available in the juvenile system, like GED and even some college classes, are rarely accessible in regular prisons.
The likelihood of recidivism increases
According to available data, juveniles who spend time in adult prisons are six times more likely to reoffend. Moreover, some juvenile facilities claim a zero recidivism rate for inmates who stay for a year and 40% after five years. Those percentages jump to 7% and 80% in adult jails and prisons.