Wisconsin's Controversial Laws on Trying Kids as Adults - Milwaukee Juvenile Lawyer

No matter where you stand on the moral issues of trying kids as adults, there’s no denying that Wisconsin’s laws are controversial. Kids as young as 10 can be tried as adults – and the law that says that has been under close scrutiny in recent months since two pre-teens attempted to murder another child. Here’s what Milwaukee attorney Carlos A. Gamino has to say about the controversy.

Attorney Carlos A. Gamino: As a lawyer, it’s my job to understand all of the laws. Some of them are a little confusing, such as the one that grants original jurisdiction to the adult court for any “juvenile who is alleged to have attempted or committed first-degree intentional homicide or to have committed first-or second-degree reckless homicide on or after the juvenile’s 10th birthday.”

Yes, you read that right – after a child’s 10th birthday, they’re headed to adult court.

It’s not for me to say whether the law is right or wrong, but that’s the way it is. Plenty of people are weighing in with vastly different opinions, too.

Robert Schwartz, founder and executive director of the Juvenile Law Center has said, “It is in society’s enlightened self-interest to keep young teens in the juvenile justice system, where public safety concerns can be addressed and young offenders can be held accountable and be rehabilitated. This is common sense.”

This brings up even more questions, though, because children who are convicted of murder may pose a serious threat to the community when they’re released – and if they go through juvenile court, the chances that they’ll serve a substantial amount of time under direct state supervision are greatly diminished. If they’re tried and convicted as adults, they’re subjected to the same sentences that an adult would be (except that until they’re 18, they’ll serve time in a juvenile facility; then, they’ll be transferred to an adult prison).

What’s your take on the situation? Leave a response in the comments – I’d love to hear your opinion!

Carlos A. Gamino