Major goals of the American criminal justice system may be to protect victims and rehabilitate offenders, but that is not the case for thousands of kids accused of serious crimes each year in this country. For many, their first and only offense may place them in prison for the rest of their lives even though they are still considered minors under the law. Criminal law as it relates to juvenile offenders has been scrutinized in recent years on the state and federal level, and it seems Connecticut is taking notice and action.
When Connecticut families, and those all throughout the country, send their kids off to school they are releasing them into a much different world than existed only a decade ago. No parent can afford to be innocent to the fact that schools are not the safe havens many once trusted them to be, and no one can assume they are entirely protected from random acts of violence. In uncertain times like these, parents, students and entire communities are expected to be especially vigilant about preventing crimes before they can occur. And while most agree that all learning establishments must strictly enforce a zero-tolerance policy for guns and/or other weapons on campuses, individual cases of kids being punished for their mistakes may reflect greater fears and insecurities.
A teenager is often in a state of limbo. He or she is no longer a small child but they are not quite an adult and therefore, life can appear very confusing to them. Often, they act without thinking about the consequences and this can get them into trouble, should they make the wrong kinds of choices. The juvenile justice system is filled with young people who are struggling to find their identity and who may be trying to fight addiction and the influence of others.
For those convicted of a juvenile crime, the consequences can be often no less severe than adult sentencing. Serious fines and incarceration can come as a result of a "guilty" verdict, at times steep enough to completely derail the life of a young person before they even arrive at adulthood.