The word justice is described in the dictionary as “a being righteous; fairness” and to bring to justice is stated as “to treat fitly or fairly”. Is our juvenile justice system just? According to the definition it is not. So, do you think juveniles should be tried as adults or should they be tried as juveniles?
It is not fair or righteous to treat juveniles as adults. Today we live in a world of crime and the youth are committing many of these crimes. The juvenile court system is to deal with all crimes committed by minors (under age 18) but this is not happening mostly minor crimes and cases involving custody and neglect are being brought to these courts. When a person is tried, he will fall under the category of either an adult or a minor. However, things in the judicial system are changing. Kids who would normally be considered a minor are now beginning to be tried as an adult. How can we single out certain minors and call them adults? Were they considered adults before they carried out an act of violence? No. How did a violent act cause them to cross over a line that is defined by age? The major crimes such as murder and assault committed by youth are most times disputed in criminal court, which is adult court where children as young as ten are being tried and convicted as adults.
Youth, that are not considered adults when it comes to voting, drinking, driving, are being sent to adult prisons for serious crimes. This is not justice; they can not try children as adults because they are not adults. In Aristotle’s “A Definition of Justice” he writes that their needs to be equality before there can be justice. It is easy to see and understand that children and adults are not equal; they have different standards set forth by law. A child must reach the age of eighteen before he can vote, and age twenty one before he can drink. So why can he serve an adult punishment?
Poverty is a major factor that causes crime in society. Nearly 22 percent of children under the age of eighteen live in poverty. Poverty, in absolute terms, is more common for children than for any other group in society. Ageism, they say, is the last frontier in the quest for economic equality. Adolescents from lower socioeconomic status (SES) families regularly commit more violence than youth from higher SES levels. Social isolation and economic stress are two main products of poverty, which has long been associated with a number of D-words like disorganization, dilapidation, deterioration, and despair. Pervasive poverty undermines the relevance of school and traditional routes of upward mobility. The way police patrol poverty areas like an occupying army only reinforces the idea that society is the enemy whom they should hate. Poverty breeds conditions that are conducive to crime (O’Conner Par 2).
Many juvenile offenders have to stand trial just like an adult, especially in a murder case. This is not fair or just. Children do not even have the mental capacity to stand trial in most cases. Children are not mature enough to understand the real consequences of their actions. Children are restricted from certain activities because society feels they are slow in developing and may not have the capacity to make complex and moral decisions. It is inhumane to execute juvenile offenders who were raised in neglected homes, abused, and forced to live by street smarts alone.
Young offenders commit these crimes because they fell neglected, that no one cares and this is a way to get attention. Telling a parent to not ignore, punish, or leave your child home alone or your child could grow up to become a criminal, seems severe. Why don’t we just tell them how to raise their children? Blaming the parents for the actions of their children may help eliminate youthful crime. It is said that juveniles that live in low income areas are more subjected to crime. Parents need to take better care of their children. By charging parents with the crime that their child has committed the United States would be sending a mixed signal to us. States need to take a closer look into the juvenile’s family lives. If there is a sign of neglect or abuse then the child should be removed form the home.
One of the most reliable indicators of juvenile crime is the proportion of fatherless children. The primary role of fathers in our society is to provide economic stability, act as role models, and alleviate the stress of mothers. Marriage has historically been the great civilizer of male populations, channeling predatory instincts into provider/protector impulses. Economically, marriage has always been the best way to multiply capital, with the assumption being that girls from poorer families better themselves by marrying upward. Then, of course, there are all those values of love, honor, cherish, and obey encapsulated in the marriage tradition. Probably the most important thing that families impart to children is the emphasis upon individual accountability and responsibility in the forms of honesty, commitment, loyalty, respect and work ethic.
Children of today are our future. The children are subjected to violence in popular songs, television shows, and even computer games. Our society needs to fight to take the violence in today’s society out of the view of children. Watching the news, reading the newspapers, and listening to the radio are also affecting children’s minds. Teaching children right from wrong is a start to help prevent juvenile crime. Every parent needs to take part in the prevention of this serious dilemma. The children of today are growing up fast. However, placing our children into adult systems are telling them that they are adults when simply they are not. Parents having guns accessible to children and the society the child lives, in play a part in the destruction of our youth.
Juveniles think differently than adults. What goes on inside a kids mind when they commit a crime such as a murder? Probably confusion because they do not know what they are doing when they kill someone. It is later on in their life when they realize what they had done and feel the guilt as well. Most young people do not understand the court system so they obviously do not even know right from wrong. It is similar to having a person not stand trial because he/she is mentally incapable. Shouldn’t it be the same for children who can no possibly defend themselves? This is the best reason why adults and children can not have the same trial.
Children are not equal to adults and need their own criminal courts and correctional facilities. It is not just to put a juvenile in a prison full of adult criminals. It is not safe or helpful. Juveniles are sent to a place full of more crime and learn from adults how to be criminals. This can set back their rehabilitation, and possibly make them more dangerous to society. These children suffer physical and psychological damage while incarcerated with adults. These children will also endure societal alienation and possibly reoffend the law. Sending kids to adult institutions will also make them hardened criminals when released. Transferring a juvenile into adult court can put the child at danger. Children should be placed into a separate facility from adults. With the overcrowding of our prisons, we are putting juvenile offenders in dangerous situations. Juveniles in adult institutions are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted, twice as likely to be beaten by staff, and fifty percent more likely to be attacked with a weapon than those confined in a juvenile facility.
Adult facilities are a school for more crimes that juvenile may learn while incarcerated. Placing children in facilities in which they are sexually abused, beaten or even killed is cruel punishment. Does the public know of these terrible things being done to these juveniles behind closed doors? There are many solutions to reinsure the safety of the children. The public should demand the government to build juvenile facilities. Trying a juvenile as an adult is one thing but when we place then we place them in danger. There are cases when a child commits a heinous crime and needs a heavy punishment. This is why we need to build new juvenile facilities for these sorts of crimes. To truly be just, there needs to be a distinct separation from adults and children concerning their crimes and facilities housing them.
Many people feel that capital punishment should not be a punishment for juvenile offenders who commit murder. It’s cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a juvenile criminal to death when he or she may not understand or be able to control their actions. Before a child commits a crime it is sure they do not contemplate the idea of being put to death for their crime. The death penalty does not deter crime or instill fear in the criminal. Juveniles can be responsible for their actions and crime with out having to give their life. Juveniles can be rehabilitated and society should not give up so easily. They should be given the chance to redeem themselves and to turn around their life, and with the right support they can learn from their experience and move on to be a productive part of society.
Others argue that brutal crimes committed by minors are still brutal crimes and should be prosecuted as adults would. These people do not look at these minors as if they have no knowledge of what they are doing. They are not aware of the consequences they will have to face or they might have done otherwise. People who are in favor of trying juvenile offenders as adults claim that strict punishments will teach other children the punishment they will get if they consider committing the same crimes. These people do not take in the thought of children be so sheltered and neglected of the outside world. Most of these children do not have a way of hearing of the punishments for other children. Most children do not think first before their actions. It is when a child becomes an adult when they begin to think before their actions because they are now responsible for their own life.
Not only is it unjust for children to be tried as adults, it is unjust for anyone to have to support it. Having to pay taxes gives the money to aid the courts in sending juveniles to prison. Some of peoples money may be used to support the courts in putting juveniles to death. No one wants to be a part of a system that is doing more harm than good. Thoreau wrote “I, Henry Thoreau, do not wish to be regarded as a member of any incorporated society which I have not joined” It is unjust to be made to pay for something that you feel is truly wrong. Thoreau also states, “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison.” It is better to be in prison for fighting for something you believe in than it is to rot in your own prison of guilt. To feel that people aided in the sentence of a young person to death, is a terrible guilt and puts people in their own mental prison.
Now I am not saying children should not be punished for their crimes, they just should not be tried as adults. One of the best results for these children is that they spend as many yeas in rehabilitation as they need. Since the times of the Romans children and teenagers have been making immature decisions. We might even say it is a behavior pattern of the age. Charging them for their offenses in adult court sends out the wrong message and does not fix the problem of inappropriate neighborhoods, poorly funded public schools, and corrections racial profiling. We must put our resources into alternative programs and counseling for troubled youth, rather than directing them through the adult criminal court process.
There are many juveniles that have been or might be tried as adults for committing crimes. It is not right to treat children as adults when they simply are not. Under any circumstance juveniles should not be tried as adults and it is we as a society that needs to speak up and change society for the better.