Should Juveniles Be Tried As Adults
Whether to try juveniles as adults or as minors has elicited heightened controversy. The statistics today shows that individuals who commit criminal offenses have not gripped the notion that crime does not pay particularly among minors. Instead, according to the Justice Department, serious criminal offenses such as rape, assault, robbery with violence, drug trafficking have increased among juveniles to 30 percent with ten percent of all homicides being at the hands of juveniles. With such numbers, it is evident that juveniles are causing more harm to a country, and since, ‘they are old enough to commit serious crimes, then they are old enough to do the time.” Thus, they should be tried as adults.
Juvenile criminals deserve to receive serious punishment. The creation of the juvenile system aimed at providing rehabilitation services for minor offenders who commit crimes such as vandalism, stealing and shoplifting among others and according to Forensic Psychologist Andrew Day, it works. Nevertheless, youths in the current generation observing this system as a slap on the back and use it to commit heinous crimes because they know the juvenile law system will let them off. Thus, despite the fact that incarceration does not offer solutions to criminal problems in a country, punishing juveniles by trying them in adult courts is necessary. Protecting criminals because of their age derails the efforts of reducing criminal activities, loss of lives, providing justice to the victims and using it as a deterrent to further crime as they are likely to experience serious punishment. Moreover, giving second chances to every crime particularly the serious ones, the youths continue destroying people’s lives and the country at large because the law opts not to inflict severe punishment.
Opponents of trying juveniles as adults argue that juvenile criminals should not be put in adult prisons nor be treated as them as they are likely to be mistreated and abused, which is a good argument. Additionally, they argue that children and teenagers are capable of learning and changing thus, rehabilitation is the effective punishment. In my opinion, this argument is uninformed because these juvenile criminals commit unlawful activities that are at par with those committed by adults, thus I fail to see why their punishments should be different. Moreover, there are habits that juvenile criminals commit that they cannot forget. For instance, in the case of two teenagers Juan Castaneda seventeen and Eric Ramirez nineteen, who in 2008 committed theft and in the process killed two people, injured another and attempted to kill others. In my opinion, such actions are difficult to unlearn.
Accountability is necessary from criminals. Victims perceive the juvenile system as an injustice. Families of the rape, murder and violence victims watch as the law shield perpetrators of their loss and horror with leniency eliciting a feeling of lack of justice. It is true that teens’ cognitive development and the environment they grow in pushes them toward crime. However, they need to be responsible for their actions as each person even minors have the capability to understand that a certain behavior is a criminal offense and it is wrong. Therefore, treating them as adults sets a precedent that deter future delinquent behavior and makes a point that introduction of tough measures to them is a likelihood.
In conclusion, juvenile criminals such as murderers, rapists, and violent individuals, should be tried as adults and receive serious punishments. Just as their age does not prevent them from committing these heinous crimes, so should it not deter them from receiving the maximum penalties to enforce accountability for actions and punishment.
The subject of Juvenile Delinquency is not a simple subject to deal with. There are many reasons for delinquency, some of which will be covered in this essay. The usual explanation is either it is part of the child themselves, their personality, their inner self (Nature), or it is because of their experience as they were growing up, especially in the formative years (Nurture).
Nature. Personality can very much influence the way that we behave. Some of us are more tolerant than others and some people are more willing to behave in a way that is expected of them. Thinking of classroom behaviour there is always few in the class that continually disrupt a lesson, and show little regard for the teacher and for the other students. However there may also be an innate problem. This could be anything from ADHD, to ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), Autism or Dyslexia, as experiencing any of these difficulties can result in poor behaviour partially due to their own bad experiences of the ‘system’, and partially through misreading social situations, which will get them into trouble. They may also be poor judges of character and tend to gravitate to a group of peers that may not make the best choices themselves.
Nurture. How is child is raised is the other main explanation for delinquency. If a child was raised in an economically poor household this could be given as a reason. But in truth many households that are deemed as poor generally tend to be more loving and more disciplined than more wealthy households. So it is not the lack of money, so much as the lack of parenting skills and the opportunities for play and education that can have a diverse effect. But there are some experiences that you cannot protect a child from no matter how good the parenting skills are. These experiences may be through bullying or abuse and can change a child very quickly from a confident self-assured child into a withdrawn and antisocial offender, seeking attention through their behaviour.
In reality although it is reasonable to ask why a child becomes a delinquent, it is also reasonable to seek the best possible way to help the child move on and develop a new set of behaviours. One of the most effective ways is to take the child away from the situation in which the behaviour occurred. To do this the child needs to be educated in the way to avoid particular ‘friends’ and to understand the consequences of their behaviour.