Trying minors – children under age 18 – as an adult is a practice that many juvenile justice experts advise against because at that age, minors are not mentally mature, and therefore are incapable of making adult decisions.g
After studying five years of data from the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Court, analysts from WYNYC uncovered another troubling reason to eliminate this practice: racial bias. Their study revealed that although white juveniles committed “waivable” offenses at the same rate as Black and Latino juveniles, of the 692 minors tried as adults between 2011 and 2016–the youngest being 14–90% were Black or Latino.
To try a minor as an adult, the prosecutor makes the request and the judge approves it. Unsurprisingly, WYNYC found that prosecutors from counties with larger white populations made fewer requests.
While troubling, this study confirms what many of us already know: justice is not blind to racial bias. This makes it all the more important that we advocate for our youth in the fight for criminal justice reform.
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Via Via WNYC