Academic journal article The Journal of Gender, Race and Justice

Furthering the Goal of Juvenile Rehabilitation

Academic journal article The Journal of Gender, Race and Justice

Furthering the Goal of Juvenile Rehabilitation

Article excerpt


Kenneth MacLennan was shot to death in his Saint Cloud, Minnesota home on January 14, 2003. ' Kenneth's son, Jason, was charged and later indicted for the first-degree premeditated murder of his father.2 Jason claimed that he suffered from battered child syndrome and acted in selfdefense; accordingly, he asked the court to admit expert testimony on how the syndrome affected his state of mind.3 However, the court did not admit the expert testimony and found Jason guilty, sentencing him to life in prison for first-degree murder.4

Similarly, in the early morning hours of December 17, 1992, in the town of Woodland Park, Colorado, fifteen-year-old Jacob Ind brutally murdered his mother and stepfather in their home.5 Jacob first shot Pamela and Kermode Jordan in their bed, and when those efforts failed to kill them, Jacob stabbed Pamela and Kermode several times.6 Jacob finally finished the job with his stepfather's .357 revolver.7 The next day, Jacob voluntarily confessed to the murders and was eventually convicted of murdering the people who had forced him to endure years of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.8 Jacob was subjected to an adult criminal sentence and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.9

Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding the brutal murders of Jacob's and Jason's parents and their subsequent sentencings are not unique to Minnesota and Colorado.10 Most states in the United States have made it easier to try juveniles in adult criminal courts.11 This is evident from the fact that all fifty states permit the transfer of children to adult courts in certain situations.12 As a result of this change, the number of juvenile offenders transferred to adult criminal courts has grown significantly.13 The rising number of juvenile prosecutions in the adult criminal courts conflicts with the basic philosophy of the juvenile justice system.14 The juvenile justice system has its origins in the belief that "juvenile offenders, given the appropriate treatment and support, are capable of rehabilitation."15 However, the current trend of charging and sentencing juveniles as adults at increasingly younger ages removes the opportunity for rehabilitation and focuses on punishment.16

This Note will focus on how the Minnesota juvenile justice system fails to promote the rehabilitative objectives of the juvenile justice system fully. Minnesota statutes, just like Colorado statutes, which "allow [the state] to directly file charges against juveniles in the adult criminal [courts] and which impose mandatory sentences, do not adequately address the unique legal status or protect the special rights of [juvenile] offenders."17 In the interest of justice and to serve best the rehabilitative goal of the juvenile justice system, this Note will argue that it would be beneficial for Minnesota to adopt measures similar to the Juvenile Clemency Board recently created in Colorado and the recently proposed legislation in Iowa which extends the reach of the juvenile justice system. This Note will not argue for the adoption of the entire juvenile justice system used in either Colorado or Iowa. Rather, this Note will argue for the adoption of specific features of the juvenile justice systems in Colorado and Iowa which will help to promote the goals of rehabilitation.

To understand the problems inherent in Minnesota's juvenile justice system and the importance of adopting the Juvenile Clemency Board and extending the reach of the juvenile justice system, it is necessary first to consider the history of the juvenile justice system. Part-of this Note traces the development of the juvenile justice system generally and then specifically in Minnesota, Iowa, and Colorado. Additionally, to explore further the Juvenile Clemency Board in Colorado, Part-traces the development and use of the clemency power in the United States. Part III shifts focus and addresses the efficacy of the current juvenile justice system employed in Minnesota. …

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