The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice


Emily Ray


The adult criminal justice system is worse for juveniles who commit crimes. Underlying principles upon which the juvenile justice system was founded remain viable and worthy goals, and Texas law should reflect that understanding. Part II traces the development of juvenile justice in this country, including the evolution of the first American juvenile courts, and summarizes the due process rights afforded to juveniles by the U.S. Supreme Court. In Part III, I argue juvenile transfers to adult court should be limited in Texas with a special emphasis on young peoples' development, decision-making and reasoning abilities, and insights scientific research provides into judging juveniles' culpability. Part III also addresses the Supreme Court case of Roper v. Simmons. Roper lends support to the contention that juveniles should be treated separately from adults. Part IV contains three specific reforms to Texas law that will significantly improve the delivery of fundamental elements of juvenile justice: individual consideration, rehabilitation, and treatment. I argue for the need for written, individualized findings during transfer hearings, the importance of the opportunity for immediate appeal of a certification order, and a reversal of the 2007 amendment lowering the age limit for TYC inmates from twenty-one to nineteen. This Comment concludes with the assertion that transferring juveniles to adult court is only appropriate in rare and exceptional situations. Texas must revisit the idea of juvenile transfer and financially prioritize rehabilitation for youths. The policy of treating juveniles like adults fails both the juvenile and the public.

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St. Mary's University School of Law



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