If you are under 18, there are many things you cannot do in the US. You cannot legally buy or consume tobacco or alcohol, you cannot enter into legal contracts, you cannot vote, just to name a few.
When you are a minor, the rules are not the same for you as they are for adults. So it makes sense that there would be some sort of rule or law that says you can’t go to jail when you’re under 18. correct?
Today, I will answer a question: Can I go to jail if I am under 18 years old?
In this blog post, I will cover the following topics:
- How minors are treated in prison
- Can you go to jail if you are under 18?
- Juvenile Courts and Detention Centers
How minors are treated in prison
It might come as a shock, but the federal government and all 50 states do send minors to prison if they are tried and convicted for crimes they committed as adults.It doesn’t happen often and the crime has to be something seriously violentㅡusually murderㅡBut it does happen. That is at the prosecutor’s discretion.
Some states, like New York and North Carolina, actually have laws that say anyone over the age of 16 is automatically considered an adult in the judicial system, no matter what crime you’re charged with.
When I was held in an adult women’s prison, there was a female prisoner under the age of 18. The rumor was that she was convicted of killing her parents, but no one actually knew because we weren’t allowed to talk to her.
Underage prisoners are completely isolated from the rest of the population. She didn’t go to class, eat in the cafeteria, or rest with other prisoners. She does have access to all these things, but she is always alone and accompanied by an officer. Additionally, the juvenile prisoner lived alone in a trailer rather than a housing unit.
She didn’t turn 18 until I left, so I never saw her. But once she did reach that age, she was released into the general population to serve her sentence with other prisoners.
I was also incarcerated with a 15-year-old girl who was convicted of murder, but she was 18 when I got there. Her name was Alyssa Bustamante, and she was convicted of murdering a 9-year-old girl. She was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole, I believe, and prison was the only life she had ever known. Considering her crime, it seemed an appropriate punishment.
I will say that Alyssa is a rock star when it comes to her treatment in prison. Her case was always in the news, she got fan letters from all over the country, and she was popular with the ladies. Alisa has always had girlfriends.
In other facilities, however, minors may live with adults, which can cause some serious problems.
“them rapid reduction,” said Marcy Mistrett, CEO of Youth Justice Movement. “They don’t have access to their families. It’s a very scary place. They are subject to the predatory behavior of others. What does it make them do? It keeps them against the wall. They have to act tough or tough. This ends up disciplinary action against them. It’s a horrible vicious cycle. “
Can you go to jail if you are under 18?
If someone under the age of 18 is charged with a lesser, non-violent crime, they will be tried in juvenile court rather than as an adult. This means that if they are found guilty, if they are incarcerated, they will be sent to juvenile detention. Minors are not sent to prison with adults unless they are 16 or 17 years old and live in a state where they are legally considered adults.
Juvenile Courts and Detention Centers
If you are charged with a crime while you were a minor, you will likely be prosecuted in the juvenile justice system, which is very different from the adult criminal justice system. Juvenile courts focus less on punishment and more on the “why” behind a minor’s behavior.
This means that the juvenile system is more about treatment and education than revenge and law enforcement. Design is about making experiences “beneficial”. Generally, you cannot be incarcerated after your 18th birthday, regardless of the crime, as long as you are charged as a minor.
Meanwhile, juvenile offenders attend classes and receive therapy to help them lead better lives.
Do you think teenagers should be tried and imprisoned for violent crimes like adults?