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"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"

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-

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

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

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
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
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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