Juvenile Imprisonment: Can 16 Year Old Go To Jail?
The United States imprisons more juveniles than any other country in the world through both the adult criminal justice system and juvenile courts. Yearly about 500000 youths are sent to juvenile correctional facilities; however, this does not reflect the numbers held in adult facilities. In most states, juveniles are housed in special establishments and detention centers that house purely individuals under the age of majority, 18 years. However, some states legally send kids with ages as low as 16 to adult facilities. Whether an individual is housed no matter, their age differs significantly in different states.
How Old Do You Have to Be To Go To Prison?
How old you have to be to go to prison depends on individual states. Each state flaunts different laws pertaining to juvenile imprisonments. While most states send juveniles below 18 years to juvenile correctional centers, other states are known to incarcerate teens below 16 years in adult facilities. The age of criminal in most states is averagely 18, but it could be different in the following ways and states:
- In about 44 states, the maximum age for you to be sent to a juvenile facility is 17 years old.
- In the following states, the maximum age for juvenile incarceration is sixteen; Michigan, Missouri, Texas, Wisconsin, and Georgia.
- In North Carolina, the maximum age for juvenile court jurisdiction is 15 years.
There are also differences in ages when a juvenile might be subjected to juvenile court proceedings for criminal acts. However, most states do not specify the minimum age in the legal corridors. Only the following states have a minimum age for such an endeavor:
- Connecticut and Mississippi, seven years old
- Massachusetts and North Carolina, six years old
- Arizona, eight years old
There are also legal dictates that determine the age of delinquency upon which a kid can face charges in a juvenile court. This also differs from state to state like seen in the following:
- Arkansas, Kansas, Colorado, Louisiana, South Dakota, Vermont, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, ten years old
- North Carolina, six years
- Connecticut, Maryland, and New York, seven years old
- California, 12 years except for murder or rape, there is no minimum age for these crimes.
The Main Types of Juvenile Delinquencies
Individual juvenile delinquencies are motivated by different issues in a variety of social contexts. Understanding these contexts comes in handy when rehabilitating these kids in relevant correctional facilities. The Main delinquencies, according to Howard Becker (1966: 226-38), include:
This involves an individual juvenile committing a crime on their own. This can be motivated by psychological problems stemming from faulty family relations and interactions. Most solo juvenile criminals have bad family relations or are unhappy at home. They could be feeling rejected, inferior, or be jealous of their siblings. This could include violence, drug abuse, among other crimes.
These are the type of juvenile criminal activities committed in companionship with other kids. The cause mostly lies in an individual’s home or neighborhood culture. This means association with other kids who are already delinquent. Such could include smoking, petty thieving, alcohol drinking.
This is committed by formally organized groups of juveniles. Members have values and norms that guide and motivate their criminal behavior. These are consciously aware of their actions and are well-organized in their biddings. Organized delinquencies could include robberies, petty thieving, bullying, among others.
While the categories mentioned above are deeply rooted, with underlying attributions, situational delinquency, as the name suggests, is purely situation-related. It is often an onsite and instant act that may not have prior meditations. A teen could find booze in the fridge and decide to take a few sips, and before they know it, they are all drunk.
Jail for Kids Under 18
There are many juvenile correctional facilities in different states in America. Here, the kids are monitored and rehabilitated accordingly to point them in the right direction and motivate them to become productive and law-abiding citizens. While typical adult correctional facilities are punitive, juvenile establishments seek to establish the “why” behind a teen’s criminal behavior in a bid to correct it. The system is not about retribution and law enforcement but treatment and education.
Some of the most popular juvenile correctional facilities include:
- Arkansas Department of Human Services
- California Division of Juvenile Justice
- Alabama Department of Youth Services
- Alaska Division of Juvenile Justice
- Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections
- Colorado Division of Youth Services
Can a Juvenile be sentenced to Death?
Unfortunately, it is only in the USA that children as young as 13 years have received life imprisonment without parole allowance. Even worse, there have been death sentences in the past. Up until 2005, when the Supreme Court banned the death penalty for juveniles, around 366 individuals had been condemned to death on account of juvenile offenses. However, after the ban, the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) moved to clear over 3000 inmates who had been incarcerated for life without parole before the age of 17. The ban came in handy to salvage the life of kids as young as 13 years who had been condemned to perish in jail.
Previously, while issuing the sentences, the judges were forced to overlook the children’s age or even life history, but the ban rectified this unfair engagement. Currently, juveniles cannot receive the death penalty or be sentenced for life in prison without parole.
Do Juveniles Learn in Jail?
Juveniles in different facilities receive different rehabilitation programs depending on the facilities in which they are housed. However, all that is offered is aimed at helping the youths to turn away from the life of crime and focus on being productive and law-abiding citizens. Some of the programs that are offered include:
- Mental health services; most crimes committed by teens and young kids are connected with underlying mental health issues. As such juvenile correctional facilities offer mental health services that can counter individual mental issues that motivate criminal activities. Some of the services provided include; crisis counseling, individual counseling, group counseling, family intervention, transition planning, and medication management.
- Educational programs; education is the bedrock of juvenile rehabilitation. As such, youth facilities are expected to provide their offenders with their education right wherever they are housed. However, there is no uniform standard of education in these facilities; learning may differ from state to state. Some offer centralized education, while others provide decentralized education run by either the school districts or the state education agencies.
- Special Education; if a juvenile is diagnosed with special needs, they are entitled to special education, no matter their incarceration status. Some of the special needs attended to in these facilities include learning disability, mental retardation, and emotional disturbances.