Watch Bill Schneider's report about the 2008 presidential candidates and the Jena 6 controversy.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – CNN's Bill Schneider takes a look at how and why some of the 2008 presidential candidates are weighing in on the case of six black teenagers in Jena, Louisiana.
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The Juvenile Justice system is badly flawed in the way it deals with serious crimes. The maximum penalty for a boy celebrating his 11th birthday is 10 years–since he walks on his 21st birthday. That is fairly reasonable. But the maximum penalty for a boy on his 16th birthday is only 5 years since he also walks on his 21st birthday. Why are we twice as harsh with an 11 year old compared to a 16 year old?
Because of this situation, older juveniles are in many cases tried as adults for serious crimes. But it seems to me that within the Juvenile Justice system maximum penalties should increase rather than decrease with age. Maybe the age of the defendant at the time of the crime could be the maximum. Then a boy one day under 17 could be sentenced to one day under 17 years.