Juveniles should not be Tried as Adults in the Legal System

Growing up everyone has friends of all social classes and behaviors. Many live wealthy lifestyles, and others not so fortunate. Many children loved going home after school and living the “Leave it to Beaver” home life. Others had a home life that was sad and created angst. They literally had nothing to eat and no safe place to sleep or rest their heads.

Having hardworking and devoted parents is essential to create a better society. This makes a big difference for any individuals success and how they wish to live their overall life. Discipline should play a big role in the life of children as they grow older. No one should have to experience friends or family members being incarcerated at such a young age. It is a burden for their families and society. This could be a shock or trauma, when juveniles are incarcerated and tried as adults. This process could have an everlasting impact in their lives as well as their surroundings. For this, and after doing some more research juveniles should not be tried as adults.

When children have family hardships growing up, as teenagers, they don’t have parental guidance and support to determine what is right or wrong. The average teenager has more chances of being with the wrong crowd and making the incorrect decisions such as; trying drugs, larceny, murder, and even rape. Juveniles are also influenced by the internet and all its resources. The worldwide web offers information that could be used for good or to commit an endless amount of crimes. The lack of discipline and influences of social media and TV has had a large impact on the decisions that juveniles make and, on the people, they hang out with; which in some instances, the wrong people.

Many of the TV show’s that are being watched in actuality contain a large amount of violence, drug usage, and alcoholism. This, along with the incorrect form of education opens the door for teens to become juvenile delinquents. One of the most important things in a child’s education is for their parents to be involved in their education. When parents are involved in their child’s education starting a young age, children have a higher chance of becoming successful citizens not only in school but outside as well. There are expectations set by the parent as well as society.

When parents do not participate in their children’s education, nor have an expectation from them, there is a lack of nurture and guidance to push children to success. With the lack of guidance, children can end up in the wrong place because many parents expect their children’s teacher to raise their child. When in reality, teaching is a partnership between parents and teachers, in which they shape and mold children and teens to become successful citizens. Juveniles are accounted for about 16 percent of all violent crimes’ arrests and 32 percent of all property crime arrests in 1999, which was when juvenile crime was at its all-time high (PBS.org). With the lack of parenting and guidance some states argue that sentencing juveniles as adults, is a method that where in society, the crime rate for juveniles would decrease, but in Minneapolis Minnesota, about 63 percent of the all violent crimes are committed by juveniles (Johnson). In theory, this statement argues that with tougher penalties, juveniles will not commit certain amount of crimes.

We assume that by a certain age, juveniles or young adults should be mature enough to know what is right and wrong. When in reality, our brains are not completely developed until our mid to late twenties (Schiraldi). Another phrase often used is “Old enough to commit the crime, old enough to do the time.” (Schiraldi). It should be cleared that juveniles are not adults and throwing them into an adult prison full of criminals, that have committed rape and murder, will not make them one.

“A separate justice system was created in the United States in 1899” (Gulstad). The goal for this new juvenile court was to divert juvenile offenders from the harsh punishments of the adult criminal court and also, to encourage rehabilitation based on the juveniles needs. Although the justice system understands that most juveniles’ offenders are too young to truly understand the consequences, many of them are still transferred to courts to be tried as adults. When a juvenile is sent to prison, he/she has a cell mate that could be a bad influence for them. Having an adult cellmate could have a negative impact on the juvenile.

Instead of prison serving as a lesson for the juvenile, it could result as a way to get into more trouble, and the question is, when would rehabilitation take place? Being with an adult cell mate a juvenile will not be able to mature properly. Not only that, on any given day, 10,000 juveniles are imprisoned with adult cellmates (Lahey). Juveniles face horrendous atrocities when incarcerated with adults’ cellmates. Some of those atrocities include; rape or other form of sexual victimization. The national prison rape elimination commission described their fate and in 2009, “youth incarcerated with adults are probably at the highest risk of sexual abuse” said a spokesperson for the NPRE.

Under the prison rape elimination act of 2003, juveniles must be housed separately from adult inmates. Regardless of these instructions, some states continued to house juveniles with adult inmates (Lahey). The sad part is that only 1 in 10 cases of sexual victimization report their abuse with juveniles being sexually abused and having no one to recur to. It is 36 times more likely that a juvenile incarcerated with an adult or being abused is more likely to commit suicide rather than juveniles housed apart from adult offenders. Not only are juveniles affected physically but also, juveniles are being denied education and subjected to various dangers.

All juveniles have the right to an education in correctional facilities, but a 2005 survey found that 40% of the jails and prisons had no educational services at all. In addition, juveniles that are imprisoned with adults are subject to mentally harmful practices and have less mental health services available to them in the prison system. When juveniles are sentenced as adults, they receive an adult criminal record (Lahey), which could result in restriction from many employment and education opportunities.

When there is a lack of education or employment, this means there is a higher chance of recidivism. So, it makes sense that juveniles that go through the adult system are 34 percent more likely to be arrested again (Lahey). This creates a cycle of juvenile incarceration that is incredibly expensive.

Ethically as in an adult or parent, it is imaginable for a young adult to be forced into the adult prison system, in hopes to regain some sort of rehabilitation for the crime he has committed.

Perhaps, solutions to this situation should be handled in a different manner. Should the education system of the United States be more involved with the process of rehabilitation as well, as helping to determine better solutions to the problem of juvenile delinquency? School social workers detect the signs of troubled students and try to guide them down the correct pathway. But this does not work for every student. As a result, those students end up in the wrong places at the wrong time. Parents should also, be committed and held accountable for minors mental and physical wellbeing. Parents are held accountable for truancy, but why not behavior? Our government could do more for our troubled teens. Maybe fund more institutions for mentally troubled juveniles, as well, as the ones who do not have any guidance/ support from their parents or guardians. Having these programs could be a very effective way to help troubled teens and create and maintain a better society

These are only some of the reasons why, juvenile should not be tried as adults, although juveniles are mature enough to commit the same crimes as an adult. The truth is that an adult’s brain is not fully developed until after their mid-twenties and even after that everyone is susceptible to making mistakes that could result in traumatic mistakes. With the right, help things can be changed for good; therefore, juveniles should have alternate options rather than being tried with other criminals and being incarcerated with criminals that could damage their future rather than help them learn from their mistakes.

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