Editorial on youthful offenders was misguided
Your Jan. 29 editorial [“Teenage killers should be tried as adults”] opposing the passage of bills HB274 and HB477, both of which would reduce the number of youth who are tried in the adult justice system, is misguided.
Both research and common sense teach that kids are different than adults.
The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that their developmental immaturity makes them less blameworthy for their crimes and has banned the most severe sentences for children.
While youth must be held responsible, they must also be given second chances.
The juvenile justice system, which was designed for children and geared toward rehabilitation, is much better equipped to protect youth from the trauma of the criminal justice system and provide age-appropriate accountability for their actions.
Youth are uniquely capable of change and transformation, and with growth and maturity, criminal offending naturally desists.
In 2019, California passed legislation similar to these Virginia bills that would end the prosecution of 14- and 15-year-olds in the adult criminal justice system.
This is sound public policy informed by research and experience.
Virginia should follow suit.
Juvenile Law Center