Should Children Who Commit Crime be tried as Adults?
Before the introduction of Juvenile Court System in 1899, individuals under 17 years who committed a crime were subjected to a similar system as adults. However, psychologists discovered that contrary to the perception that juveniles were hardened criminals, they are youths who have lost their way. Thus, the main objective for the introduction of the Juvenile Court System was not to imprison and punish the juveniles, but to rehabilitate them. This system works under the same viewpoint as the other justice system, which concentrates on encouraging good behavior instead of punishing bad. Victims are given a number of opportunities such as receiving education, but according to the orders of the court.
Additionally, inmates in various detention centers are given jobs within the prison (Holly, 2008). In the United States, a number of transformations have been initiated and implemented in the Juvenile Court System, more especially in the 1980s and 1990s, when juveniles were commonly described as “super predators.” A good example of such changes is changing of the law in most states allowing waiving juveniles to adult court. During this time, the public believed that juvenile crime had increased considerably and that the juvenile justice system was becoming ineffective in realizing its objective. Presently, with the economic challenges, most governmental agencies, including the juvenile court system, have been forced cut down their programs. This paper is going to focus on whether children who commit crime should be tried as adults or not.
Young people are very fragile and when they are tried the same way adults, then, they get exposed to many risks. To start with, most adult criminals are usually experienced and end up teaching the young offenders even worse crimes. For instance if a 15 year old teenager, who has been found guilty of robbery is confide in the same prison with an adult criminal found guilty of drug trafficking, then, they young boy will be at a high risk of learning bad habits from such criminals. In the prison, he will interact with the adult criminals, who will teach him even worse crimes. Additionally, the young people can easily acquire the don’t care attitude such that they become even worse than they were when they got confide. Other bad habits that the young adolescents may pick up while confined in the same prisons as the adult criminals include use of drug. When the young people interact with the adult offenders in the prisons, they start doing exactly what the adult prisoners do in order to fit in. Such habits include using drugs and engaging in unnecessary fights with their fellow in mates (Harmening, 2010).
Harassment is another risk that the young face when they are tried the same way as adult offenders. When found guilty, they get sentenced the same way as the adult criminals who have committed similar crimes (Black, and Larson, 2009). The adult criminals may start feeling themselves as being more superior that the young offenders. They adult prisoners may be older and with bigger bodies; they start harassing the young adolescent prisoners who may be of a small age and with small bodies. The adult prisoners may expose the young offenders into serious assault. They may be asked to carry out the duties of the adult offender, or even eat their food and leave them starving.
When the young offenders are also tried like adult offenders, they also get exposed to sexual assault. Inside the prisons, the adult prisoners who do have conjugal visits or even gay prisoners take advantage of the adolescent prisoners. In fact, research shows that the adolescent offenders who are usually sexually assaulted in the prisons have even higher chances of committing suicide (Harmening, 2010). This may be as a result of the poor care that they get from the prisons. In most prisons, some prisoners are usually feared but all people including the prison wardens; hence even when they see the young offenders being sexually assaulted they are in no position to assist them. Additionally, when the young adolescents are sexually or physically assaulted the rarely get good medical attention. Most the time, the pain becomes too much, which eventually leads them in to thinking of committing suicide.
It is not fair for the young offenders to be tried as adult because they do not even think like adults. Teenagers under the age of 18 have not been allowed to do many things that are done by adults. Such things include drinking alcohol and driving cars. Additionally, young adolescents are not also allowed to get married before they are of the age of 18. As a result, it goes without saying that for the same reasons that young adolescents are not allowed to the above mentioned things, they should also not be tried the same way as the adult offenders. It s believed that adolescent offenders are not mature enough to make mature decisions regarding their lives. Additionally, the brains of the adolescent criminals are not developed fully until an older age of about 20 years. They usually do not have the prefrontal cortex part of the brain, which helps people to reason well, as well as, make correct judgment. Additionally, at the adolescent age, young men and women are usually easily irritable and get moods all the time and thus they require to be confined in places where they are well supervised by an older responsible person. The young people do not also have the same strength and endurance to go through the same consequences that mature adults go through and, therefore, it is fair for the young adolescent offenders to be tried the same way as the adult offenders (Sesha and Tricia, 2004).
When young people are tried the same way as adults, they become even harder criminals. The environment at the adult prisoners is an environment where the young offenders learn to become harder and worse criminals. Young offenders who are taken for counseling or taken to correctional centers have higher chances of becoming better people in the society. However, when such young offenders are taken to the adult prisoners, they only get to learn what they see what their fellow prisoners do (Jennifer, 2011). Thus, they become even worse people they were before. Young people always want to be held their hands when they go wrong and the behaviors that they take up depends on the person who helps them during their time of trouble. In fact, they start looking at such people as their role models. In the adult prisons, young men and women only have their older prisoners to guide them and lead them; hence when the young adolescents come out of the prison as twice bad as they were when they got in the prisons.
On the other hand there are several reasons why children should be tried the same way as adults. One of the reasons as to why children should be tried the same way as adults is because if they can afford to commit the same crime like the adults, they deserve to be tried the same way as the adult (Carolyn, 2005). There are those teenagers that commit even worse crimes that the ones that normal adults criminals commit. It therefore only fair for such children to be tried the same way as the adults. Additionally if the young offenders are treated better than the adult criminals they will go back into committing the same crimes again and again. If the young people know that the consequences waiting for them if they commit serious crimes are big and harsh, they will fear committing crimes. However, if they know that if they committed serious crimes they will just be taken to correctional centers for guiding and counseling, then, they will go on committing such crimes all the time.
In conclusion, it is evident that juvenile cases have been on the increase in the recent time. Some of the crimes that the young adolescents commit are worse than the one that the adults commit. As a result, the question as to whether the children should be tried in the same way as than adults had come up. Many people argue that children should not be tried the same way as adults because of several reasons such as; when young people are tried the same way as adults, they become even harder criminals. The environment at the adult prisoners is an environment where the young offenders learn to become harder and worse criminals. Additionally, when the young offenders are also tried like adult offenders, they also get exposed to sexual assault. Inside the prisons, the adult prisoners who do have conjugal visits or even gay prisoners take advantage of the adolescent prisoners. Nevertheless, it is not fair for the young offenders to be tried as adult because they do not even think like adults. However, some people argue that young offenders should be tried the same way as adults because if they can afford to commit the same crime like the adults, they deserve to be tried the same way as the adult. There are those teenagers that commit even worse crimes that the ones that normal adults criminals commit. It therefore only fair for such children to be tried the same way as the adults.
Carolyn, S.B. (2005), Offender Ethnicity and Juvenile Court Referrals to Substance Abuse
Services, in Stephanie W. Hartwell (ed.) The Organizatioanl Response to Persons with Mental Illness Invloved with the Criminal Justice System (Research in Social Problems and Public Policy, Volume 12), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.91-109
Holly, V. M. (2008), Restorative justice and youth courts: A new approach to delinquency
prevention, in Holly Ventura Miller (ed.) Restorative Justice: from Theory to Practice (Sociology of Crime Law and Deviance, Volume 11), Emerald Group Publishing Limited,
Jennifer K.S. (2011) Interagency Cooperation in Juvenile Detention Center Library Services: An
Introduction to the Issues, in Delmus E. Williams, Janine Golden (ed.) Advances in Library Administration and Organization (Advances in Library Administration and Organization, Volume 30), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.187-206
Sesha, K. and Tricia, K. (2004). JUVENILE INSTITUTIONALIZATION PRACTICES IN UNITED STATES: A STUDY OF TWO INSTITUTIONS IN NEW YORK. Suffer The Little Children (Advances in Education in Diverse Communities: Research, Policy and Praxis, Volume 4), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.359-384
Harmening, W. M. (2010). The criminal triad: Psychosocial development of the criminal personality type. Springfield: Charles C Thomas Publisher, Ltd.
Black, D. W., & Larson, C. L. (2009). Bad boys, bad men: Confronting antisocial personality disorder. New York: Oxford University Press.