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The Kid Behind Bars When does one actually become an adult When is one old enough to be tried and sentenced as an adult for crimes committed These are questions which have been debated by law enforcement officials more often in the past decade than in the past 30-40 years Children usually defined as anyone under 16-18 years of age who commit adult crimes should be tried and sentenced as adults rather than having a hearing and a disposition While it is not appropriate for these individuals to be placed in the same facilities as adult offenders they should receive the same degree of punishment in a younger environment The juvenile system is not adequate to handle serious crimes It does not ensure that offenders will end their days of crime It is merely a slap on the wrist in most cases Before and during the early 1970s most of the cases brought to juvenile court were misdemeanors However from the late 1970s until 1991 drug related offenses were less common than robbery Between 1987 and 1991 the fastest-growing crime by juveniles was loaded gun possession Kramer 404 The crimes are becoming more and more serious than in the past Instead of being only misdemeanors more and more felonies are being committed More drastic penalties need to be sentenced Children who are perpetrating these felonies should be serving more serious sentences than the children who are only committing misdemeanors These are dangerous people We hardly ever see the nonviolent any more says Peter Reinharz chief of New York Citys Family Court Division Kramer 404 While misdemeanors are still serious crimes the ones who commit them do not require as harsh treatment as the ones who commit felonies There has been a belief that under the guidance of social workers young offenders would undergo a change of character So instead of placing
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