UCF instructor writes book on juvenile justice

NSC adjunct instructor Jeff Kunerth recently wrote and released a book on juvenile crime, punishment and justice in the United States.

Trout began as Kunerth’s master project at Goucher College.

“What I thought I was writing about – a case of mistaken identity murder-for-hire by three Pensacola teens in 1991 – turned into a deeper look at juveniles in the adult court system,” Kunerth said.

The book is a look from inside the lives of three teens at how adolescents are different from adults even when they commit “adult” crimes. The public’s loss of faith in the juvenile justice system – where kids are treated differently than the adult criminal justice system – has erased our understanding that teens are not yet fully formed people – mentally, emotionally, psychologically, physically. We know this as parents and teachers, but we forget this when it comes to crime and punishment. In our society, the act negates age.

What Trout explores is how solid, scientific research on adolescent brain development is proving in the court of law – specifically the U.S. Supreme Court – that kids are different and should, even in adult court, be judged differently. This doesn’t excuse their crimes – teens are as capable of cruelty and brutality as adults. But it does mean that subjecting teenagers to the same punishment as adults is unjust. A 17-year-old condemned to death is not the same as a 37-year-old man who gets the death penalty. Life without parole for a 16-year-old is more severe than life without parole for a 46-year-old. What the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized in their 2005 and 2010 rulings is that what essentially makes teens different than adults is their capacity for change. They can mature, even in prison, into men and women who are far different people than they were as boys and girls. They are more capable of rehabilitation, and redemption, than full-grown, mature adults.

You can buy Trout on Amazon by clicking here.

If you are interested in speaking with Kunerth and/or having him speak at your event or class, please visit his website here.


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