Many readers of our criminal defense blog across Idaho might quickly agree that many indiscretionary offenses committed by juvenile offenders — illegal acts spurred by immature behavior, peer pressure or uninformed judgment — should not be routinely responded to by criminal authorities with harsh exactions that play out over a lifetime.
After all, kids are, well, kids.
That reality does not of course immediately excuse wrongful conduct, especially if it involves violence and/or is recurrent in nature.
Generally speaking, though, most adults will readily concede that, in many cases (for example, in a case involving drug possession or sale by a teenager who is a first-time offender with no history of violence), an appropriate legal response to juvenile crime should concede a young offender’s redemptive potential and not merely be punitive in nature.
And, as noted in one recent national media article on juvenile crime and punishment, it scarcely serves anybody when a juvenile is locked away with older individuals in adult facilities. It has been estimated that 16- and 17-year-old teens serving time in adult jails and prisons as opposed to juvenile facilities are five times more likely to become sexual assault victims. Moreover, the terror and violence they experience in such lockups can stay with them forever and, additionally, result in higher recidivism rates.
We certainly know that at Palmer George & Taylor PLLC, as well as that young offenders are greatly served by having their juvenile criminal records sealed and, when possible, expunged (erased) entirely.
We believe that, in many instances, minor offenders benefit optimally — as does society generally — when their criminal sentence stresses an alternative to incarceration and is coupled with record expungement. Such an outcome better enables them to pursue future educational and employment opportunities without fear that a criminal past will forever stigmatize them.
We welcome contacts to the firm, and the opportunity to discuss the advocacy our attorneys bring to bear on behalf of youthful offenders.