Being taken away from one’s home is an extremely traumatic experience. Despite this, hundreds of thousands of juveniles are removed from their families and placed into some kind of detention center. The juvenile justice system does not always treat teens the same way, either. Washington minors accused of similar offenses may end up with very different outcomes.
In some situations, minors are even moved out of the juvenile justice system altogether. Take the case of a Washington teenager who was accused of using a gun to take other kids’ Halloween candy. Rather than go through the juvenile courts, he was adjudicated — or moved — to the adult system and sentenced to spend 31 years behind bars.
Around the same time as the first incident, another teenage boy of the same age but in a different state was arrested after he and a group of friends attacked and robbed another group of boys. Rather than being set on a path toward prison, he was given the opportunity for a second chance program. At age 25 he now has a college degree, a daughter and what he describes as a dream job.
A mark of youth is the ability to make mistakes and learn from them. When teenagers are merely punished without any consideration for their age, that learning opportunity is unfairly taken away from them. Parents who want to make sure their children still have the opportunity to grow and learn from their mistakes may want to make sure that they speak with an attorney who is well-versed in Washington’s juvenile justice laws.