"When the Supreme Court banned capital punishment for crimes that were committed when a defendant was under the age of 18, it ruled that ‘standards of decency’ had evolved to recognize that a juvenile’s ‘lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility’ distinguished his crimes from those of an adult.
The 2005 ruling, in Roper v. Simmons, was based partly on common sense and partly on research showing that the brain is still developing during adolescence, making young people especially vulnerable to impulsive behaviors.
Over the last decade, seven states — Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire and South Carolina — have passed laws that channel most young offenders into juvenile courts, where they can receive counseling and support, instead of into adult courts and adult prisons, which are not equipped to deal with adolescents.
This wise approach has bypassed New York, which is one of only two states — the other being North Carolina — that automatically try 16-year-olds as adults. While New York lawmakers fear that raising the age for adult courts would make them seem ‘soft on crime,’ some state legislatures are now considering proposals to raise the age to 21."