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Children and adolescents

in the United States’ adult criminal justice system

This report addresses the situation of children and adolescents who are charged, prosecuted and convicted in the United States’ adult criminal justice system. That exposes those juveniles to serious violations of their rights to life, personal integrity and due process, since—by being treated as adults—they lose the special protection the criminal justice system must grant to children and adolescents.

The Commission will use the terms child, adolescent, young person, teenager and juvenile to refer to any person under 18 years of age.

In Context

How do children and adolescents enter the adult criminal justice system?

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Metropolitan Detention Center

Credit: Albuquerque Film Office 


Effects on the rights of children prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system

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Photo of a mural made by children and adolescents imprisoned in the Turner Guilford Knight prison in Miami, waiting to be tried or sentenced as adults.

In prison

Children in adult prisons and jails

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Conclusions and recommendations:

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