New Jersey teens charged with crimes will have greater protections from prosecutors who want them tried as adults, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, requiring a judicial review and proof that the move will deter further crimes, reports the North Jersey Record. Child advocates hailed the 3-2 decision, arguing it would result in better outcomes for teens who have a brush with the law.
The ruling has the potential to affect hundreds of cases annually — more than 500 requests to move juveniles to adult courts were made between July 2008 and October 2009, according to Laura Cohen, a Rutgers-Newark law professor who represented a coalition of civil rights advocates on this case. And it comes as courts throughout the country grapple with a growing body of evidence showing that children’s judgment and decision-making processes are fundamentally different from adults’. In response, the U.S. Supreme Court has acted in recent years to ensure greater leniency for juveniles convicted of crimes, recently striking down automatic life without parole sentences for them.