Many minors who have been arrested for crimes have historically appeared in adult court in Louisiana and other states. Now, things are changing.
What is the history of juveniles in court?
In prior years, hundreds of juvenile offenders would end up going to adult courts for trial. Often, this occurred due to delays caused by police and the judicial system.
Children ended up in adult courts when they committed even minor criminal offenses. Many of these kids faced harsh penalties if convicted before they turned 18 years old. Some of the offenders saw such long delays in their trials that they ended up tried as adults even though the offense was committed before they turned 18. This shows problems with the system.
What is happening now with juvenile offenders?
One young man who was arrested on robbery charges when he was 16 thought the same thing would happen to him. He ended up in the adult court system at first and could foresee a terrible future. He managed to convince the judge to send his case to the juvenile system, which marked a huge change in the philosophy of being tough on juvenile offenders.
The young man got a second chance. After going to juvenile court, he was ordered to spend one month in a juvenile detention facility. Afterward, the judge ordered him to serve house arrest, probation and to pay $3,000 in restitution. His arrest occurred eight years ago, and he is now an advocate for youth offenders.
The second chance allowed him to be able to complete his high school education, remain with his family and maintain his friendships.
According to Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) data, the number of juveniles going to adult court dropped to as low as 2% by 2019. In 2020, it went down to 1%. Only Georgia, Texas and Wisconsin still prosecute minors in adult court.