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Children Being Tried as Adults Essay

Some juveniles think that because they are minors, they can’t be severely punished just like adults. Using this thinking, many minors commit crimes thinking of little to no consequences at all. With this thinking, the “double standard” comes into place. Female juveniles think because of their gender, they can really get away with crimes.

For the average american, the term “juvenile delinquent” is likely to conjure up the image of a teen-age male. The one-sided image is fed by media stories that all but ignore the existence of young offenders who are female. Most of the professional literature on juvenile delinquency is similarly slanted.

Should minors who commit crimes be prosecuted as adults? That is indeed a topic you have to really think about twice. All crimes committed by juveniles should and must be treated in the same regard as adults. These kids go to juvenile court and get shortened sentences because of their age, thats not right. They commit big boy crimes, they have to do big boy time.

When you think of the word “Juvenile” what’s the first thing you think about? The first thing that comes to my mind is crime simply because when i hear the word juvenile, its usually followed by delinquent. Until the early 19th century in the United States, children as young as 7 years old could be tried in criminal court and, if found guilty, sentenced to prison or even to death. Children under the age of 7 were thought to be unable to commit criminal acts and were therefore exempt from punishment. Reformers believed that treating children and adolescents as adult criminals was unnecessarily harsh and resulted in their corruption.

A 1991 study by Virginia’s Department of Youth and Family Services, entitled “Young Women in the Juvenile System,” concluded that girls serve more time in training schools than their male counterparts, and for less serious offenses. The same pattern prevails in most other jurisdictions. (Anderson)

Between 1994 and 2010, violent crime arrest rates decreased for all age groups, but more for juveniles than for adults. More specifically, the rates dropped an average of 54 percent for teenagers 15 to 17, compared to 38 percent for those between 18 and 39. And while arrest rates for violent crimes were higher in 2010 than in 1980 for all ages over 24, the rates for juveniles ages 15 to 17 were down from 1980. (Brown)

Not everyone agrees that tougher crime laws for juveniles are fair or will cut down on youth crime. Many opponents of penalizing kids as adults believe that young criminals, unlike adult offenders, are still developing personal values and character. Juveniles, they say, can be more easily reformed, or rehabilitated, to turn their lives around and lead productive lives. For example, in a documentary i recently watched, all of the adults had been to jail and had a bad childhood but had changed their lives for the best. Many people have shown their disagreement with the statement above in many ways creating controversy.

“Lock ‘Em Up” says one civilian/pedestrian in a street interview . “Let ‘Em off, they’re just babies” says another civilian. These two statements/opinions stirred up lots of controversy and debates on live television. In one argument a tv reporter said that “It doesn’t mean adolescents can’t make rational decisions or appreciate the difference between right and wrong. But it does mean that, particularly when confronted with stressful or emotional circumstances, they are more likely to act impulsively, on instinct, without fully understanding or considering the consequences of their actions.”

Some controversy comes in with the parents thinking that their children don’t deserve to be tried as adults in their situation. For example, Paul Henry Gingerich, a 14 year old murder suspect is believed to be the youngest person in Indiana ever sentenced to prison as an adult.

He was still 12 years old when he arrived here at the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility, the state’s maximum security prison for children. His mother could not do much due to the severity of the situation. Over 200,000 children are charged as adults every year says a researcher at Temple University.

At the age of 16, Cameron Williams lives a life far removed from the world of other teenagers. Williams, who celebrated his sixteenth birthday in jail, faces up to 110 years behind bars for second-degree attempted murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony. In November, Williams shot at a police officer in Omaha, Nebraska as he was being chased after being pulled over in a car with two other men. He’s also charged with robbery and assault in another county. Even though he is a minor.

Many people are affected/involved in these juvenile cases. In many cases, the juveniles themselves are the ones who are greatly affected because they are the ones who have messed up their future. The parents are also majorly affected by children being charged as adults because they still look at their children as innocent and as babies. In a recent california case, a 15 year old boy was sentenced to 20 years on a murder charged in a maximum security facility and was beaten to death. This made the state and even parts of the nation rethink this whole “age doesn’t matter thing” when it comes to juvenile sentencing.

To decrease juvenile crimes there are several prevention programs. There is a program called D.A.R.E which stands for Drug, Abuse, Resistance, Education. The program is for kids as old as 18 and as young as 11. There are also programs like after school matters which teaches children the importance of staying in school and staying on the right path, and finally P A.C.E. is “Programming for Young Women in the Juvenile Justice System, which also helps to rehabilitate juveniles after they are released from jail. (Anderson, George M.)

Another possible solution could be for parents to teach their children right from wrong early in their lives and for older children, spend more time with them and show them that you care about them/love them, and most of all be there for them throughout their lives. Statistics show that children who grow up in a single-parent household are nine times more likely to go to prison, eight times more likely to commit violent crimes, and ten times more likely to get hooked on drugs than in a two-parent home. After some long research I concluded that teens today don’t fear the law because they don’t think they will get caught. And if they do, they know they have a good chance of getting off because they are tried as teens and not adults. We have to get tougher on crime. There should be a law that everyone over eleven years old will be tried as adults. That way more teens would be discouraged from committing crimes. They would know that murder would get them a very long sentence instead of staying in juvenile hall until they are eighteen. If we want to cut down on teen crime, we have to have tougher laws.


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