A District Attorney’s Toughest Decision: When Should A Juvenile Be Tried As An Adult?

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Juveniles in Jail May Get Education

The question of when and why to try juvenile criminals as adults is in Colorado news again after a 16-year-old was charged in the death of her 7-year-old nephew. In that case, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann charged the teenager, Jennie Bunsom, as an adult for first-degree murder.

Juvenile sentencing is a controversial topic, with many district attorneys increasingly considering factors like a teenager's brain development as well as his or her possible rehabilitation. Stan Garnett, a former Boulder County District Attorney, told Colorado Matters it's one of the toughest decisions a DA has to make. He spoke about the factors that go into the decision making, adding that juveniles should be treated differently than adults, but also that exceptions can be made in particularly violent acts.