New Hampshire is taking steps toward reforming certain aspects of its criminal justice system. Victims’ rights advocates are spearheading these efforts, although the changes stand to have an equal and opposite effect on the accused/convicted. According to the Concord Monitor,”New Hampshire is one of 15 states that does not extend enumerated rights to victims of crime.” There is an implication that lawmakers were more concerned with putting provisions in place to protect criminal defendants, while failing to provide alleged crime victims with ‘parallel’ rights, if you will. As the movement gains traction, the chief concern of criminal defense advocates is that the new victim-serving provisions do not in turn infringe on the rights of criminal defendants. Continue reading →
In order to function effectively, the law must be a paradigm of impartiality. When any aspect of the law begins to act on emotional responses, they cease to be a fair and effective tool of justice. As New Hampshire publication Union Leader puts it, “Over the past few decades, some of New Hampshire’s most horrific crimes were committed by minors.” Almost all of these minors were tried as adults. Many were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole due to the gravity of the crime they committed. But this begs the question, why should children be tried as adults? The severity of a crime does not mean their mental faculties were any more developed than a child who commits a lesser crime.
Teens & the Ability to Reason vs. Feel
These decisions, sentencing minors to life without parole, fly in the face of the fact that adolescence is a time of neurological transition, with mountains of scientific evidence to support the notion that teens are subject to substantial limitations in judgement and maturity. These limitations persist until around the age of 25, when the pre-frontal cortex is fully developed. Until this time, teens use the comparatively “emotional” amygdala–part of the brain involved in experienced emotions–to process information and assess consequences.