This statement was originally published on the Physicians for Criminal Justice Reforn's website.
The Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform support the end of the prosecution, sentencing, and incarceration of youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.
Each year, approximately 200,000 youth are prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system. According to decades of medical literature, adolescent brains are developmentally different from those of adults, often leading to impulsive decision-making, increased risk-taking and decreased appreciation for long-term consequences of behaviors. As a result, youth, by law, are prohibited from taking on major adult responsibilities such as voting, jury duty, and military service. It follows, then, that youth should not be held to an adult standard of accountability when involved with the criminal justice system.