Stop Extreme Practice of Trying Minors as Adults


Target: Attorney General Eric Holder

Goal: Restrict the practice of trying children as adults in US criminal courts

Every year, approximately 250,000 children are prosecuted as adults in US courts for crimes ranging from shoplifting to homicide. The “exceptional circumstances” required to do this are clearly being very loosely interpreted, to the detriment of the children being tried, the criminal justice system, and society as a whole.

Juvenile courts aim to rehabilitate rather than severely punish, in order to reintegrate offenders back into society. The philosophy behind transferring juvenile offenders to adult criminal courts holds that the harsher sentences will serve as a deterrent for juvenile crime and recidivism. However, data have not borne this out. Some studies have indicated greater recidivism for minors tried as adults versus those tried in juvenile courts.

Justice and prudence demand that the “exceptional circumstances” required for an adult trial for a minor be extremely limited to the most heinous and premeditated crimes. The incarceration of children for non-violent offenses is at odds with the values and legal philosophy of the United States.

Sign this petition to call for federal legislation to limit this draconian policy to truly exceptional circumstances.


Attorney General Holder,

Since lowering the age of judicial transfer for juveniles two decades ago, hundreds of thousands of children have been tried as adults across the country. This undermines the intention of judicial transfer laws, and places undue burden on the already struggling prison system. No research has demonstrated increased deterrence or decreased recidivism for minors tried as adults.

Please prioritize the adoption of fairer legislation to give juvenile offenders the best chance at rehabilitation and reintegration into society. The widespread prosecution of children as adults is antithetical to the principles of this country and its laws.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: jodylehigh via Pixbay

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