The progressive theory states that children must be considered vulnerable and innocent and lack the mental state needed for them to be responsible for any criminal offense they commit. The theory exempts the minors notably because they do not have the mature mental state and lack the necessary wisdom to judge character (Foster, Tanenhaus & Lusty, 2013). The analysis of the case of In re Gault and Kent v. the United States depicts some elements in the court system that need to be reviewed. Gerald Gaunt was apprehended and taken into custody for allegedly making some lewd phone calls. His case was heard before the juvenile court judge who ordered for his commitment to the State Industrial School as a minor or a juvenile delinquent until the time he reaches maturity (Foster, Tanenhaus & Lusty, 2013). The appellants brought the habeas corpus action in the court so as to challenge the legality of the verdict given by the Arizona Juvenile Code and the outcome of the judge’s verdict. The State Supreme Court withheld the verdict of the Arizona Juvenile Code in that the judgment impliedly covers all the attributes of the due process in the juvenile delinquency process. The State Supreme Court decided that all the requirements and the due process were not offended by the court that led to Gault’s commitment (Foster, Tanenhaus & Lusty, 2013).
How the judges arrived at the decision
The judges arrived at the judgment that led to Gerald’s commitment using varied arguments. The case of In re Gault and Kent v. the United States held that the waiver hearing had to measure the essential elements of the due process and that fair treatment was a factor. The view in the case as described in the constitution with regards to delinquency is a requirement in the Fourteenth Amendment (Sterling, 2012). The essence of the judgment of the case relates to the adjudicatory phase of the juvenile court process. The stage requires a commitment to a state institution. In such court proceedings, the due process requires that adequate notice in written form be given to the child, parents, or guardian. The notice must inform the party of the specific issues and conditions that the person must meet. The written notice must be given in a practical time-span (Sterling, 2012). In the case of In re Gault and Kent v. the United States, the notice was adequate nor specific and timely. The waiver notice of the right to the constitutional process was also lacking. The events raise the question of the judgment given. In such court proceedings, the juvenile and the close people, notably, the parents should be informed of the right to be given counsel to represent the minor. If the parents are not in the position to get counsel, the court appoints a counsel on his behalf (Sterling, 2012). Gault’s mother statement at the hearing of the case that she could get a counsel cannot be termed as an abandonment or intentional relinquishment of the fully known right. A constitutional privilege that is against self-incrimination can be applied in the case of Gerald. The admission by the juvenile court may be used or may not be used against him when there is no clear, unequivocal evidence, which the admission agrees that he was not obliged to speak. He would not also be penalized for keeping silence in the court. The privilege may not be represented in the proceedings when the protection of the privilege is invoked. In contrary, the juvenile court proceedings involving delinquency may lead to the commitment of the minor to a state institution when the case is regarded as a criminal offense for the purpose of use of the privilege against self-incrimination. Some special problems often arise due to the waiver of the privilege on behalf of the minor. Hence, there might be some unique techniques that depend on the competence of the parents and the age of the minor (Sterling, 2012). A great care must be taken to assure that the admission was voluntary if the counsel was absent. Gault’s admission did not meet the standards, hence could not be utilized as the basis for judgment against him. The case of Gerald reveals the undermining of the progressive theory that states that the children should be considered innocent in the court of law and that they are vulnerable to offenses due to their low mental state. In making the judgment, the counsel did not take the theory into account (Sterling, 2012).
Reasons why juveniles should not be tried in adult courts
In the US, when a person that is charged with crimes is aged between 10 and 18, such a suspect is referred to as a juvenile delinquent. There exist differences in the justice system of the juveniles and the adult’s courts (Kathleen, 2015). Hence, the juveniles should not be tried in the adult court system due to the psychological and physical damage they may encounter. Some adult courts tend to brutalize the juveniles making them endure societal alienation, and possibly offend the law. There exist profound effects of juveniles being tried as adults. Some cases can be transferred to adult criminal court through a process known as a waiver (Kathleen, 2015). When the juveniles are transferred to the adult courts, the transfer gives them more constitutional protection from various offenses, unlike the adults. The act also has some disadvantages like it has the potential for a more severe sentence to the minor and even the possibility of serving more time in the adult correctional facility. The conviction of a minor in the adult court carries more social stigma than the judgment done by the juvenile court (Kathleen, 2015).
- Foster, R, V., Tanenhaus, D., & Lusty, H. L. (2013). Punishment First: A Study of Juvenile Pretrial Detention. New York, NY: Nolo Publications.
- Kathleen, M. (2015). When Juveniles are Tried in Adult Criminal Court. Retrieved from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/juveniles-youth-adult-criminal-court-32226.html
- Sterling, R. W. (2012). Fundamental Unfairness: In Re Gault and the road not taken. Md. L. Rev., 72, 607.