The number of accused teen criminals in Peoria County, Il., being sent to adult court is creeping upward, says the Peorial Journal Star. In 2001, only three of 502 juvenile cases went to adult court; nine of 506 went to adult court in 2005 and eight of 477 last year. All of the accused were convicted. Public defenders say the transfers are unwarranted. “Sending them to adult court is just punishment,” said one lawyer.
Prosecutors contend juveniles who commit adult crimes should pay an adult price. One accused teen opened fire in a crowded high school hallway. Another boy shot and killed a mother and daughter at an ATM. Elizabeth Kooy of the Juvenile Justice Initiative in Chicago admits some children have graduated in their behavior out of the juvenile system, which was set up to deal with children before their actions got too serious. She says those under 17 should remain in the juvenile system when possible, citing evidence that the brain of a 14- or 15 year-old hasn’t matured to the point where children can appreciate the ramifications of their actions.