One Saturday in May, 2014, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, two 12 year old girls stabbed another young girl multiple times, claiming that they did so for the sake of the fictional internet character, Slenderman. While their victim survived the attack, the two girls were both arrested and charged with murder, and in just the last week the judge presiding over the case chose to try them as adults.
The decision will have a lasting effect on these girls’ lives. Had the judge decided to try them as juveniles, they may have been sentenced to detention until they were of age, at which time they would have had access to certain services supervising their actions. To put it in more understandable terms, it would have been more like a short jail sentence with months, perhaps even years of parole following their release.
However, being tried as an adult, the girls are looking at up to 65 years in the adult prison system. This means that they will not have access to youth-targeted behavioral and educational services, and in the meantime may be targeted in the system for sexual and/or physical attacks.
Underage prisoners are nothing new. A study done by the U.S. Department of Justice in the year 2000 states that between 1985 and 1997, at least 4000 juveniles were sentenced to prison.
However, while this is the case, Tennessee itself tends to keep juveniles separated from the adult prison system. If your child or the child of someone you know has been involved in a crime, it is best to contact a lawyer who can tell you more about your options.