There was a noted progressive increase in the serious crimes committed by the young people from 1980s and rising up until 1994. In 1996, many predicted based on demographic studies that the teen population will increase and that 25 % of the crime of murder will be committed by the juveniles (Public Agenda Organization web site, 2008). Between the years 1984 and 1994, although the crime statistics in the entire America dropped, the murders committed by the juveniles under 17 tripled (Macko, 1996).
In 1996, a 6 year old beat a baby causing her to have brain damage. In St. Louis, a 15-year old pregnant student was murdered by another student. A high school band teacher in Florida was shot by juveniles. There was a public clamor to address the growing problem of juvenile crimes by changes in the juvenile justice system (Macko, 1996). Based on federal statistics in the year 2000, juvenile crimes comprised about 17 percent of the serious and violent crimes and 32 percent of the total percentage of property crimes (Public Agenda Organization web site, 2008).
Due to the public clamor, almost all states enacted laws which allowed the prosecution of youthful offenders as adults in adult courts for serious offenses. This ‘’get-tough’ policy is based on the assumption that these youthful offenders are hardened criminals and therefore they deserve to be prosecuted, tried and punished like adult criminals (Public Agenda Organization web site, 2008). These youthful offenders are not given rehabilitative and counseling programs and are most of the times, meted longer prison sentences (Public Agenda Organization web site, 2008).
There is a second approach employed to address these problems which considers the main cause of the criminal acts such as drug use. The third approach advocates rehabilitation and counseling the youthful offenders based on the assumption that they were just misled and unguided. The ‘get-tough’ policies are actually revived from the period of the mid 1960s when there was a ‘baby boom’ of youth crimes and which led to tougher enforcement and prolonged sentences (Law Library web site, n. d. ).
Law Library web site. Juveniles in the adult system-youth and ‘get tough’ politics. Retrieved on May 3, 2008, from http://law. jrank. org/pages/1528/Juveniles-in-Adult-System-Youth-crime-get-tough-politics. html
Macko, S. Kids with no hope, no fear, no rules, and no life expectancy. Emergency Net News web site. May 18, 1996, Vol. 2, No. 39. Retrieved on May 3, 2008, from http://www.emergency.com/juvycrim.htm