YoungPeople Who Commit Violent Crimes Should Not Be Tried as Adults
YoungPeople Who Commit Violent Crimes Should Not Be Tried as Adults
CameronWilliams is a young adult who went to prison when he was only 16. Hislife in prison was far removed from that of other teenagers. Theyoung man, now 22, faces a 110 year sentence over an attemptedmurder. He is also charged with using a weapon in committing anoffence. Another 11-year old boy was arrested for shooting an 8-yearold girl using his father’s shotgun in Tennessee. He may also becharged as an adult. These are only two of the numerous cases wherechildren under 18 are charged as adults in the United States. Thereis currently a heated debate on the issue with some supporting thecourt decisions while others oppose it. Instead of trying minors asadults, closely examining the root cause of violence among childrenwould be a better solution. The Juvenile justice systemdid not exist in the 18thcentury. During that century, young children, aged as below as 7years were being tried as adults. The first juvenile court wasestablished in Crook County, Illinois in 1899. Other states followedsuit thereafter. In 1925, 48 states in America had at least onejuvenile court. However, there was no real change in the justicesystem until the 1970s (Mays & Houghtalin, 1993). The UnitedStates Supreme Court declared that juvenile courts should be givensimilar chances like the adult courts. It was decided that thesecourts should also follow the judicial standards that support thetruth beyond reasonable doubt. Today, juveniles can be legally triedas adults. It is believed by most people that minors have the chanceto get back to the society and live normal lives if they arerehabilitated (Steinberg & Piquero, 2009). The problemthat exists with trying juveniles as adults is that these youngpeople lose their chance at normal lives when they mature. Whenpeople are still young, rash and unreasonable decisions are verycommon. Teenage is a time of vigor and activeness. Many people arejust beginning to experience and experiment with life. When one isstill young, they may only act and think as young people. Considerthe case of the 11-year old who was arrested for shooting a girl forrefusing to let him see her dog. He was only trying to punish theyoung girl for not complying with his demand. Every young person getsangry when his or her needs are ignored or people refuse to do asthey want. As has been proven by nature, as one grows older, theydevelop better thinking and rational behavior. Children act withoutthinking about the consequences of their actions while most adultsthink before they act. If the young boy is sent to jail for the restof his life, he will live a hateful and depressed life. If he is sentto a rehabilitation center, he will be given an opportunity to learnabout how to control his emotions and to grow in an environment wherehe can be taught the appropriate behaviors. As a result, he may growinto a responsible young man who respects the law (Levin,2009). In the case of violent crimes that involve guns, the mainfocus of the legislators should be where and how the child got a gunrather than why the child used the gun. If a child is left in a roomwith a burning candle, it is highly probable that the child willeither burn him or herself, or burn the house. This can happen evenif the child has been warned in the past that fire burns things.Similarly, if parents do not secure their guns and store them awayfrom the reach of children, they will most definitely take the gunsand experiment with them. According trials that are meant for adultsto children will not kill the curiosity of children (Grimes,2007). Poor gun storage is only one of the causes of the variouscases of violent crimes among young people. The lack of role modelsis another problem. Since the parents of this generation are alwaysbusy, they do not have time to spend with their children, educatingthem on what is right and what is wrong. The parents have to workovertime, sometimes coming back to the house when the children arealready asleep. Children, therefore, have to learn from theirfriends, who in many cases are bad influence. If this case is notaddressed, even if children are tried as adults whenever they areinvolved in violent crimes, many more children will end up committingthe same crimes (Levin, 2009).
Economicproblem Enacting policies that make paid parental leavesmandatory for all parents is one very effective move. It can help insolving the economic problem of keeping a large proportion ofeffective workforce. Studies indicate that locking young peoplebehind bars costs the government about $250 daily per person. In2009, the Justice Policy Institute reported that states use up to$5.7 billion in locking up young people. Giving paid parental leaveto parents would cost much less than this. Another added advantagethat will be realized if the juveniles are not treated as adults isthat more youths would grow up into responsible adults who can workhard and improve the nation’s economy (Levin, 2009).
Politicalproblem The issue is not just an economic problem in termsof using up the tax-payer’s money to lock up young people who wouldotherwise be taught and given opportunities to build the nation.There is also a political problem associated with trying young peopleas adults. Many policy makers and politicians face challenges inchoosing whether to support or shun the practice. In order to stay inthe favor of the people, most of the politicians support what ispopularly believed by the people. However, this has a deleteriouseffect on the lives of the children who end up spending the rest oftheir lives under punishment. Policy makers and politicians need tobe strict in following the ethical statutes and to stand firm despitethe views of the people. This can help in the enactment of new lawsthat recognize that children think like children and adults thinklike adults. Recognizing this fact can help in ensuring that childrenreceive only the punishment that is meant to show them that theiractions have consequences. They should then be given opportunities tomake amends by changing their ways. There are states that have evenused the money meant to keep juveniles in prison by investing themoney in alternative programs that can help develop the youths intobetter, productive and responsible individuals. New York was able tosave about $6 million dollars through a similar program. It ispossible for lawmakers in any other state to do the same (Grimes,2007).
SocialProblem Every human being needs to be a social being.Socializing with other members of the society impacts ones’ life.Apart from being a political problem, trying youths as adults arealso a social issue. The social issue is that the youths are placedin places that are not meant for them. Young children end up spendingtheir lives among violent and broken adults. The adults areperpetrators or rape, drug abuse and robberies. Living with thesepeople make them grow up knowing that the best way of life isviolence and lawlessness. It is socially unjust to place childrenunder such conditions. Because of their defenselessness, many of theadults take advantage of them and go as far as raping them. Moreover,this places them under mental torture and distress (Levin,2009). Sentencing young people to life imprisonment withouta chance for parole is like taking their lives away from them. Incase the children who get such sentences find their way back in thesociety, they will live a life of lawlessness because that is the waythey know. If they could have been sent to rehabilitation centers andapproved schools, they could have learnt to be independent andresponsible citizens. They could also have learned to live peacefullywith their neighbors. They are also taught life skills, how tosurvive in the society and how to fend for themselves. They are giventechnical training that they can use in generating income that theycan use in meeting their needs. The children are also put throughanger management trainings and counseling where they are taught howto manage their emotions and stay from violence. This option is muchbetter than sending them to adult prisons and locking them in for therest of their lives among violent people, which only makes them evenmore violent (Myers, 2005).
Equityproblem Presently, equality is given the first priority.Treating a young child as if he were an adult implies some imbalance.Before this is done, one should remember that children lack somerights that adults enjoy, hence it is not fair to treat them the sameway as adults. They are not permitted to drink, drive or make legallybinding decisions because they are considered inadequate. For thesake of equity, it would be proper to be considered inadequate evenwhen it comes to trials in court (Grimes, 2007). Minors areinadequate when it comes to making rational decisions. Theirdecisions to get engaged in violent crimes are also thereforeirrational and should be treated as such. Young offenders should gettrials that are equal to their age and mental capacity. The onlypunishment they deserve is being sent away to some rehabilitationcenter where they can be taught social skills and lawful behaviors.After this, they should be allowed to rejoin their family members(Levin, 2009).
Ethicalproblem Moral behavior is very essential to any society.For young children, teaching them to be morally right can well beeffective while they are still at their tender age. When they aretreated as adults when they do wrong they miss such lessons, thusmaking the society worse in terms of moral behavior. Sending themtemporarily to rehabilitation centers can help in solving the ethicalproblems associated with trying minors as adults. Every child has theethical right of growing among family members. It is thereforeunethical to take them away from the love of their family members andlock them away among total strangers. To make matters worse, most ofthe strangers usually try to take advantage of them, their innocenceand experimental minds (Layzell, 2005). There should be a place whereyoung offenders are sent to learn life skills and pay for theircrimes. However, this should not be a prison where there are adultoffenders. If they are sent to rehabilitation centers, they can learnfrom the experiences of each other and become responsible people whocan operate normally in the society (Levin, 2009).
Environmentalproblem The environmental problem that exists is that of theenvironment of the jails where the children are sent. Every citizenhas the right to live in a favorable and conducive environment,regardless of legal status. A criminal does not lose the right to afair environment because of the crime (Schmalleger, 2012). Sendingthe children to an environment that is dominated by adult offendersis denying them this right. Trying the children in adult courts alsoplace them in pressurizing environments where they cannot effectivelydefend themselves. This can lead to an unfair and biased judgment andsentence (Hile, 2003)
Tryingyoung people who commit violent crimes is economically, politically,socially, equitably and ethically problematic and therefore needs tobe avoided at all costs. Instead, parents should be given paidparental leaves so they can have some time to spend with theirchildren and teach them the vital life skills they need to survive inthe current society. This is because children currently have no rolemodels and therefore turn to their peers for directions in life.These children tend to ape the violent behaviors of their peers.Children are not able to think rationally and, therefore, should notbe tried as adults who have the mind to think about the consequencesof their actions. These young people are a potential source of laborwhen they grow up. Locking them up for the rest of their lives islike hindering economic development of the nation. It is alsounethical and socially problematic to separate children from the loveof their families and plant them among vicious inmates who are oftenseeking to devour them. It is not equitable to try young people asadults, yet denying them the adult privileges in all other sectors.To solve these problems, it is proper to send these children torehabilitation centers where they can learn from the experiences ofeach other. They can also be taught life skills and how to survivewith each other and how to live peacefully with neighbors. Thechildren are also taught how to manage their emotions, especiallyanger. The rehabilitation centers often go as far as giving technicaltraining to the young offenders. When they leave the rehabilitationcenters, they often have the skills they need to survive in thesociety.
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