Juveniles Tried as Adults in Court

Every year, 200,000 adolescents are put under the adult criminal justice system and account for 1,200 of the 2 million individuals housed in prisons in the U.S (theatlantic.com). Youth who commit crimes that could lead them to be dangerous for society, should be tried as adults. No one should receive special treatment in court, jail, or prison because people of all ages commit the same type of crimes every day and should be held accountable. Therefore, both juveniles and adults should receive the same amount of jail or prison time. It is true that juveniles may experience issues at home, at school, or may be mentally ill which causes them to act out in manners that will harm others or themselves. Although they may have these issues, it should not affect the amount of time they are punished for their consequences. Juvenile delinquents should be convicted in the same manner as adults because they have proper morals, are clear dangers to society, and their age should not excuse their violent behavior.

Everyone, when they reach the age where they can make decisions, should know which decisions are right and wrong. Regardless of whether they learn through their parents, themselves, or society in general, they should know the genuine meanings of different behaviors. They know what they’re doing while in action and there is always a motive for doing it. If an adolescent has a past criminal history or is arrested for violent crimes, they ought to be tried in an adult court. Adult prisons and jails are about imprisonment and brutal sentences, while juvenile courts focus mainly on rehabilitation (abcnews.go.com). Numerous children have mental or personality disorders that constrain them to act out in many ways they may or may not understand which is why rehabilitation is the response rather than prison. Indeed, they should be treated for their issues, but should also be sentenced the appropriate time for the crime. Not all adults who commit crimes are right in their minds and also may have mental issues. Therefore, it should be no different when either an adult or child stands trial for crimes to which they plead insanity, each should get a similar discipline (University Wire).

Juveniles are definite dangers to society after they commit a crime. Some people do not expect someone under the age of 18 to commit heinous crimes, but it happens every day and should not be looked upon. Those people who commit such heinous crimes are dangerous while in prison and outside of prison if they get out. Anybody who is locked up in prison has a criminal record and is in the system which is why they are a danger to society. Juveniles should serve the appropriate time for the crime they commit because there are possibilities that they may repeat their actions. He or she should spend a legitimate amount of time learning their lesson so that if and when they get out of prison, the thought of prison would be an obstacle for them if they were to commit another crime. They may not be mentally equipped to be treated as adults but, if their minds were mentally developed to commit the crime, then it should be that way when they reach court and prison. According to David Myers, in the adult system, it was thought, serious and violent youths would be held more accountable and would receive a harsher punishment. This would beneficially affect adolescent wrongdoing by giving more stronger punishments, greater prevention from acting again, and longer incarceration (2). Myers is saying that juveniles need what adult courts have to offer to improve their ways and become better individuals. That even though adult courts are harsher than juvenile courts, adult systems give more opportunities for violent criminals who need to become nonviolent. He also states that during the past couple of years, juveniles under the age of 18 have represented around 33 percent of all serious property crime arrests and less than 20 percent of violent crime arrests in America. In excess of 66 percent of every juvenile arrest is for non-index crimes, which include rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft (3).

When it comes to acting out in a violent way, age is the one factor that should not justify a person’s behavior. The age of the suspect is the last thing that should cross a juror’s mind when deciding whether a person is guilty and if they are younger than 18, whether they should be tried as an adult. Youth who commit adult crimes should serve adult time. All juveniles may not be mature enough to be treated like adults, but not all adults are mature either. If a 15-year-old and a 45-year-old committed the same crime, there is no reason for them to be treated differently. Linda Collier states that “ Children who knowingly engage in adult conduct and adult crimes should automatically be subject to adult rules and adult prison time” (63). Collier’s statement infers that if a child was to commit a crime that an adult would, then he or she should serve the same amount of time an adult would for engaging in the same crime. Usually, juveniles who are convicted as adults begin by serving time in a juvenile facility and are transferred to an adult facility at the age of 18 or older. Most states, like North Carolina, treat all 16 and 17-year-olds as adults, regardless of what the crime is. Other states, like California, allow prosecutors to decide whether to charge youth as an adult for violent crimes. Many states have enacted changes in their juvenile crime laws, and some have decreased the age at which a juvenile can be tried as an adult for certain violent crimes (Collier 65).

In conclusion, juveniles should be tried as adults in court because they recognize what they are doing when they commit a crime. Unless an individual has mental issues or any other disorder that causes them to offend, he or she should know exactly what they are doing. Furthermore, they should know that what they did was wrong and against the law because they should be taught right from wrong. They are just as guilty as adults who commit the same type of crimes and should take responsibility for their actions. Systems are sometimes more lenient towards adolescents because they may be too young or not mature enough to have to go through what adults go through in court following prison. However, if the crime was very violent, then they should not get any special advantages and should not receive a great amount of respect from anyone regarding the system. Age and maturity should not determine a person’s indictment because anyone who can offend, knows what’s appropriate and what’s not. It should not be indulgent for someone who is a danger to society. Although juveniles should be tried as adults in court, they should not have to be housed in adult prisons for any reason because it will cause extra problems and decrease their chance of changing their ways. Juveniles should be protected in prison because they are still young, but in court, they should not be given any privilege since they committed a crime.

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