Credible, but Useless.

In the article, Trial by Fire: Prosecutors Sending Juveniles to Adult Courts, by Jean Trounstine she discusses the controversial topic of juvenile sentencing. Throughout her article she specifically focuses on her opposing view in the topic of ‘direct file’, which is when prosecutors avoid the juvenile court and family court system and chooses to file the juvenile in adult court.

Jean Trounstine is an author, editor, professor at Middlesex Community College, prison activist and a blogger for Boston Magazine. Her background also includes being a teacher for the Framingham Women’s Prison. Apart from this she also has a personal website where she writes weekly blogs about the criminal legal system at jeantrounstine.com in a segment called ‘Justice with Jean”. In addition to her weekly blogs her website also includes workshops, self propaganda, and facts about her. With a very diverse background in the criminal justice community she seems credible to write and comment on this topic.

Trounstine’s intended audience for this article are activist and the general public. She writes her article in a manner where it is understandable for most people. The vocabulary she uses in her article is not so advanced that it takes away from the article. She cuts purposely separates her article into three sections and creates short paragraphs so the reader wont be overwhelm.

In her article one of her arguments for why juveniles shouldn’t be tried as adults is that the juvenile brain is different from the adult brain. For this specific argument she cited, ‘The Promise and Perils of Adolescent Neuroscience and the Law’, a talk Dr. Leah Somerville took part of at the Harvard University in 2015. Trounstine wrote:

“Dr. Leah Somerville explained how neuroscience backs up the psychological understanding that the juvenile brain is different from the adult brain. Researchers agree that adolescents’ impulsivity, risk-taking, poor planning for the future, lack of foresight of consequences, poor decision-making and bad judgment can be backed up with science.”

Although Dr. Leah Somerville, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University, is a reliable source I don’t necessarily think she used the information she collected to its full potential. She repeatedly says how things can be ‘backed up with science’ or ‘neuroscience backs up..’, but she doesn’t really explain how this is possible. She doesn’t go to into further detail and explains how science can back up her argument of juvenile brains are different from adult brains.

Another source Trounstine cites is the New York Times, which she uses to write about the ‘advancements toward ending harsh juvenile practices’. In this paragraph the objective she took was to demonstrate the various states that have already taken lead in solving the ‘direct file’ problem. Although she names various states who have already made adjustments to minimized harsh punishments, what she doesn’t mention is how this has helped the juvenile system overall or the crime rates.

In conclusion although I would consider her reliable because of her background and the sources she utilizes; I would consider her to be bias. Despite the fact that her information was reliable and credible the way she used the information didn’t have a meaning to me. She was very limited in the information she gave her readers making it seem like she was hiding something.

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