6 1 discussion dispositional decision making

Review the Kent and Gault decisions in U.S. Supreme Court Cases Have Had an Impact on the Character and Procedures of the Juvenile Justice System. In your post, analyze the case using the following questions as a guide:

  1. What dispositional option(s) would you have chosen in both of these cases? Explain your answer.
  2. For what crimes would you limit the imposition of nominal sanctions, ADR, and diversion? Explain your answer.

Then respond to two peer post below using these guidelines.

In your responses, challenge your peers by offering additional dispositional options that you think would have led to a fairer outcome. Be sure to explain your rationale.

Peer post 1

Hello Class and Professor,

As far as a disposition regarding Morris Kent, the 16 year old charges with rape and robbery, the Supreme Court remanded the case to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. A hearing de novo was held at the order of the Supreme Court, and Kent was found guilty of six counts of housebreaking and robbery. He was found not guilty of the rape charges by reason of insanity. Kent was sent to St. Elizabeth Hospital where he remained under treatment from 1963 until 1968 (Ketcham, n.d.). Kent married, had children, and, as of 1996, is reported to have a clean record since his release. The disposition finally handed down for Kent was, in my opinion, a just one, according to known facts. Although all facts are not known, the process which provided the second disposition was just, as Kent received his due process and constitutional protections that the initial ruling did not provide.

In the case of Gerald Gault, the process which ultimately sentenced him to six years for making a prank phone call, an offense that, for an adult, carried a maximum sentence of two months, and a $50.00 fine, was nothing short of ridiculous. He received none of the protections given by the Constitution, and in contrast, lacked even a shred of common sense in regards to his sentence. Even after the case was remanded to the Arizona Supreme Court by the U.S. Supreme Court, sentence overturned, and Gault was released in December, 1964, the record of the incident delayed Gault when attempting to enter the U.S. Army. Gault finally did get into the army after a court order to destroy his juvenile record was issued. Gault’s adjudication of delinquent was not reversed until 47 (forty-seven) years later (Cahill & Pferdeort). Six years for making a prank call. In what way was this in the best interest of the juvenile? I would suggest that the police officer that filed these charges could have spoken with Gault, counselled him, and remanded him to the custody of his parents, or he could have arranged an apology from Gault to the victim, Mrs. Cook, or had Gault wash town vehicles. There are a myriad of things Gault could have been ordered to do that offer a better solution and disposition than six years incarceration for making a prank phone call.

Peer post 2

In 1964 Gerald Gault and a friend made a prank phone call to his neighbor, who accused the boys of making lewd comments during the call. Both boys were arrested shortly after, and Gault had many rights ignored during the process. His parents were not notified of his arrest, nor were they allowed to take him home until the hearing. At his first hearing, he was not given the charges ahead of time, the victim was not there to be questioned and other due process and constitutional rights. “The June 9 hearing was informal. Not only was Mrs. Cook not present, but no transcript or recording was made, and no one was sworn in prior to testifying” (Facts and Case Summary, n.d.). After a second hearing, “the judge committed Gault to juvenile detention for six years, until he turned 21” (Facts and Case Summary, n.d.), but if he was an adult, he would only be facing two (2) months in jail and a $50.00 fine. After the sentence was handed down, “Gault’s parents filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which was dismissed by both the Superior Court of Arizona and the Arizona Supreme Court. The Gaults next sought relief in the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court agreed to hear the case to determine the procedural due process rights of a juvenile criminal defendant” (Facts and Case Summary, n.d.). The Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear his case to “determine the procedural rights of a juvenile defendant in delinquency proceedings where there is a possibility of incarceration” (Facts and Case Summary, n.d.). The ruling was reversed and remanded because Gault was not given his full rights during due process. I think that Gault should have been made to apologize to his neighbor and perform community service in order to give back to the community. Considering what the penalty for an adult charged with the same crime is, six (6) years in a juvenile facility is just harsh and uncalled for.

“In 1961, while on probation from an earlier case, Morris Kent, age 16, was charged with rape and robbery (U.S. Supreme Court, 1999). Kent’s attorney assumed that the District of Columbia would wave jurisdiction from juvenile court to the adult system, so he filed a motion to hear the issue on jurisdiction. The judge made his decision after claiming to have done a full investigation into the matter, and the ruling was that Kent would be tried in adult court. Kent ended up being found guilty of six (6) counts of housebreaking and robbery which carried a sentence of 30-90 years (U.S. Supreme Court, 1999). His case was appealed, but “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed, although it noted that the juvenile court judge provided no reason for the waiver (Kent v. United States, n.d.). The case would end up in the U.S. Supreme Court where the decision would be reversed and the wavier no longer be valid since he was now 21 years old. The ruling was made based up the fact that the original judge did not do a sufficient investigation before making his ruling on the wavier. Kent ended up facing no charges or punishments from this case. I would have like to know just how much he admitted being a part of the crimes because I feel he should have faced at least some punishment for robbery and rape. I would like to see him face a fine for the damages he caused and be made to go through counseling to ensure he can change his behaviors.

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