Today, children of all ages are committing crimes that carry harsher punishments for adults. Why should children who commit murders, rapes, and assaults be released early from time served because of their age? Why is it that adults get hard time for crimes such as burglary, domestic violence, and theft, while, juveniles spend days in juvenile hall for the same kinds, if not worse crimes, than adults? I strongly feel that if a child is old enough to commit heinous crimes such as school shootings, rapes, and even murders then they must be tried and convicted as adults. If we as a society continue to allow our children to be able to commit adult crimes and not get punished with adult time, then our society is in for a rude awaking. If these children are allowed to break the law and not have hard repercussions for their actions, then these children are going to grow up thinking they will get by because of their age. Adult crimes committed by children should be given the same sentences for adults who commit the same types of crimes.
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Many people today, are against the idea of young children being put in prison, locked away from society, and even executed for crimes they have committed. Why should children, just because of their age, be allowed to get released early from a light sentence? According to, Fact sheet: The Juvenile Death Penalty, 69% of Americans opposes the death penalty for young children. This shows that our nation is numb to the fact that children that young can be associated with the crimes they are accused of. How are children going to learn that killing someone, breaking into someone’s house, and even shooting up a school because they are mad, is wrong? When children do indeed commit these crimes, we as a society tend to be more lenient on them because of their age. We look at then and see a young child; a child that we believe could not commit such crimes. We put a juvenile like Jose, someone who killed another child else by beating them to death with a tree branch, in juvenile hall for only 208 days (Frontline). This goes to show that children are getting away with murder. Those children only serve a small amount of time in a juvenile facility. What is so wrong with punishing young criminal offenders for the crimes they have committed? Some would beg to differ that how are we to know if the children were in their right state of mind when they committed these crimes. How and who are we to judge to maturity of these young children just by looking at them and their crime records? In order for the juveniles to be sentences properly and adequately, there must be more tests and programs that the child must go through in order to insure that there is nothing wrong with them mentally.
Reading “Adult Crime, Adult Time”, by Linda J. Collier, a juvenile Judge, has made me realize that the juvenile justice program does indeed need to be restore and reorganized to work effectively and properly. When a young child commits a crime there should be many things taken into account when going to trail and sentencing. First, there should be taken the age of the offender, the severity of the crime, and the state of mind the offender was in. The juveniles would need to be evaluated by a professional that has experience dealing with at risk and youthful criminal offenders, in order to assure the safety of citizens as well as juveniles. Then these children should be given the proper attention so that they can and will be taken care of properly. For example, if the child is found to have a mental problem then they would need to be sent some where that specializes in the care for children with handicaps. If these physiatrists conclude that the child does not have any mental disorder and they were in their right state of mind when the crime took place, only then should they be tried and charged as an adult. If the crime is something like murder or assault with a deadly weapon, children should be given the maximum sentence, even if that means death. According to the statistics there are twenty-two states that allow juveniles to be executed (The Juvenile Death Penalty). Out of the twenty-two states, five states recommend the minimum age for the death penalty as seventeen (Juveniles and the Death Penalty). Whereas in seventeen states, the minimum age to be executed is sixteen at the time of the crime (Juveniles and the Death Penalty). This goes to show that out of fifty states, twenty-eight states do not allow children, juveniles, to be executed. This proves that in these states juvenile delinquents who commit adult crimes spend their punishment time, if any, in juvenile faculties. So, what they are saying is that if a child goes on a shooting spree at school, because they are children, they are allowed to go free after they serve time, in most cases until the age 21. I feel that many children today are spoiled. The juveniles are spoiled compared to earlier generations. When comparing children of today to your parents when they were children, you will find out that a lot has changed. The children are allowed to stay out later and have much more freedom than our parents did. Yet, when they do get in trouble they are only given a slap on the hand and that is the end of their punishment. I read about a young child age, 11, Nathaniel Abraham, who shot a stranger outside of a convenient store with a stolen gun. His punishment was only ten years to be served in a juvenile detention center, after that he was released (Frontline). This is a prime example of children who commit adult crimes and do not get adult time. I feel that children will hear of this and will think that there are not going to be hard consequences or a harder penalty for their actions. I do not think there should be a set age limit in order to be charged with an adult crime, but rather be charged because of the seriousness of the crime. Yet, many are scared to think that they are and will allow young offenders to be sent to jail or prison with “adults”. Over the past years, the juvenile population has become more prevalent with adult crime. According to Collier, “If a juvenile is accused of murdering, raping or assaulting someone with a deadly weapon, the suspect should automatically be sent to adult criminal court”(220). What is so wrong with this statement? Why can’t the entire juvenile departments be centered on this? If the departments of juvenile justice would take into consideration all the crimes that have been committed by juvenile and their reasons maybe they would have better forms of punishment. If juveniles are given harsher punishments maybe they will realize the consequence that can come from their actions. If these children see first hand what is like to commit a crime and the punishment that comes along with them, then maybe the juvenile crime rate will decrease.
It is up to us as a society to help protect our future, our children. When a child commits an adult crime then they deserve to get adult time. Does it matter what age they are? Does it matter on the crime? If it was adult committing the crimes would their punishments be different? So, I agree with Collier when she says, “Children who knowingly engage in adult conduct and adult crimes should automatically be subject to adult rules and adult prison time”(221). If they want to act like adults, children should be treated like adults. Would you feel safe in your neighborhood knowing a young child has killed someone else or committed some other crime and was released because of their age? Would you want your children to play with them?
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