VIEWS: 3 PAGES: 4 POSTED ON: 12/18/2011
. "As many as 200,000 youths charged with crimes today are tried in adult courts, where judges tend to be tougher and punishments harsher — including sentencing to adult prisons." CQ Researcher, "Juvenile Justice" 2008. Companion bills in the House and Senate would channel everyone through the juvenile justice system until they turn 18. Sixteen- and 17-year-olds are tried as adults under current state law, which has been in effect since 1919. More than 450 offenders younger than 18 were admitted to state Department of Correction prisons last year. That number included 361 17-year-olds, 82 16-year-olds and eight 15-year-olds. The 16-year-old twins, Tasmiyah, "Tas," and Jasmiyah, "Jas," had at one time been "A" students, involved in Girl Scouts and the performing arts at their Georgia high school. But 18 months ago, they reportedly became so violent and hard to handle that they temporarily moved in with their elderly great- grandmother. Now they're locked up, accused of murdering their mother, a beautician who had recently gone back to school to study fashion design. Whitehead was found dead in her Conyers, Georgia, house in a pool of blood Jan. 14, brutally beaten and stabbed. Just one week before the murder the twins had returned home, but their mother had called police three times to rein in her out-of-control twins. In Lakeland eight teenagers are tried as adults on charges including kidnapping in a beating that was videotaped for posting on YouTube and MySpace, according to the state attorney's office in Polk County. All eight face charges of kidnapping, which carries a penalty of up to life in prison, and misdemeanor battery, said Chip Thullbery, spokesman for the state attorney's office. Three also face a felony charge of witness tampering. They are Brittni Hardcastle, Brittany Mayes and Mercades Nichols, all 17. The other defendants are April Cooper, 14; Kayla Hassell, 15; Cara Murphy, 16; and Stephen Shumaker and Zachary Ashley, both 18. Chicago police have charged three teens with the murder of Derrion Albert, the high school honor student whose vicious beating was captured on video and widely circulated. Silvanus Shannon, 19, Eugene Riley, 18, and Eric Carson, 16, were all charged as adults with first-degree murder and ordered held without bail. Carson is on probation for a previous robbery conviction, but the other two do not have criminal records, the Tribune reports. Derrion Albert, Chicago-based 16-year old who attended Bible Class every week, was beaten to death on September 24. A bystander's video captured the truly horrific ordeal. Four alleged attackers are now being charged as adults Albert was leaving his high school last Thursday when two rival gangs one called "The Ville" for their neighborhood approached the area, all macho and shit. Two guys from the nameless gang attacked Albert with a wooden railroad plank, called a tie, and then, for some reason, five guys from the rival gang got in on the action. One man, 19-year- old Silvanus Shannon, admitted that he stomped on this poor kid's head. It's all very disturbing. Since the 1990s, Maryland legislators have approved laws requiring that a youth charged with any of 33 different offenses will automatically be charged as an adult, and will be held in an adult jail for months or even years while waiting for trial. Two students walk next to a sign about violence at Richmond High School in Richmond, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009. Four teens were charged in the alleged gang rape and beating of a 15-year-old girl outside of her high school homecoming dance. All four, ages 15, 16, 17 and 19, who will be charged as adults, were charged with rape and enhancements that they acted in concert, which could make them eligible for life in prison. On June 17th, community members, organized by the newly formed Alliance Against Gang Enhancements, rallied and handed out flyers on the steps of the Santa Cruz County Courthouse and the corner of Ocean and Water to educate the public about the realities of gang enhanced sentences. Organizers say that the sentencing "enhancements" [sic] broadly criminalize youth and do not deter future gang crimes. Rather, they result in huge costs passed on to taxpayers and overcriminalize youth in marginalized communities. Support for the demonstration was expressed by many car drivers and passengers, as well as people entering the courthouse. However, some folks were apparently less enthusiastic, such as the prosecutor against Richard Bentancourt. The jurors for Bentancourt's trail were reportedly brought into the courthouse through a backdoor. Bentancourt and two other people are on trial this week for a "gang crime" in which the defendants allegedly participated in a fight in Santa Cruz. A "gang enhancement" or allegation of involvement in a criminal street gang can transform a simple misdemeanor charge, like shoplifting or trespassing, into a felony crime with consequences that include prison time and juveniles being tried as adults.
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