In Dallas some law enforcement are advocating for the transfer of children to adult court in part because they believe it will make the children more accountable. Sadly, I’ve ran across this belief before. For some reason, people believe the adult court system will somehow make children “pay” for what they have done more than a juvenile court would.
I’ve represented multiple children in transfer hearings and can state that the juvenile court system was the correct place for all of them. Juvenile court places a greater emphasis on rehabilitation than just pure punishment. However it does not ignore accountability. Instead, a child is not only held accountable but also receives court ordered and monitored services that are simply not available in adult courts. These services have been proven in study after study to greatly reduce his or her risk of offending in the future.
To disregard the positives of juvenile court actually imperils our society as we are more likely to create an adult criminal. Note: There are procedures in place for trying children directly as adults when the crimes are extremely serious. this comment does not address such crimes. Credit to the National Juvenile Defender Center for bringing this article to my attention.