Juveniles Tried As Adults Pros and Cons List
Juvenile offenders are being tried at an alarmingly high rate, as the American justice system seeks to catch potential career criminals at a young age and remove them from the streets for good. While some believe that this a salient strategy, there are others who do not see the benefits. The pros and cons for each viewpoint are numerous, so let’s take a closer look.
List of Pros of Juveniles Tried as Adults
1. Crimes Are Crimes.
Those who believe in the benefits of trying juveniles as adults are firm believers in the fact that a crime is a crime, no matter how old the person is who committed it. If juveniles are given more lenient punishments, this does not discourage them from committing crimes in the future and may even bolster their belief that they can successfully get away with it.
2. Scaring Young Criminals Straight.
When juveniles are forced to follow the same rules as their older counterparts, this teaches them a valuable lesson about committing crimes. Being forced to spend time in prison around hardened criminals can often have the effect of scaring a wayward child straight. The fear of going back to prison for good is usually instrumental, as it forces a child to change their ways.
3. Lowers The Crime Rate.
Trying children as adults has the effect of lowering the overall rate of crime and allowing us to live in a much safer society. Removing menaces from the streets, no matter how young they may be, has a calming effect on society as a whole. Children that see their peers receiving harsh punishments are also much less likely to commit crimes of their own.
List of Cons of Juveniles Tried as Adults
1. Lack of Understanding.
Studies have shown that the brain of a juvenile has yet to fully develop, which can hinder their sense of knowing right from wrong. Those who do not agree with trying juveniles as adults point to this fact and urge lawmakers not to throw the book at a child who may have made a one time only mistake.
2. Jail Time Affects Them Differently.
A juvenile is not always going to sit in jail and think long and hard about what they have done. An adult is typically more remorseful about the crime they’ve committed, because they have more life experience and a greater understanding of the consequences. Adolescents will often repress their feelings about the crime and emerge from jail in the same mind state that they went in with.
3. Parents Take Less Responsibility.
Sending a juvenile to jail for a crime that they have committed essentially lets parents completely off the hook for what has taken place. Parents who fail to teach their child right from wrong should also be forced to shoulder some of the consequences for their child’s actions.
Records show that courts with juvenile jurisdiction disposed more than 1.3 million delinquency cases in 2010. However, according to the website of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, data gathered from 1996 to 2014 shows a 65% decrease in the number of juvenile crimes committed by adolescents aged 10-17. Despite these numbers, it is still a sad reality that there are still too many adolescents who are committing crimes, including violent ones such as murder, rape, and assault. Today, some people are saying a way to make the world safer is for juveniles to be tried as adults. It is a hot issue that is making society question what could be the best solution to dealing with adolescent offenders. There are pros and cons for juveniles to be treated as adults when deciding on the punishment for their crimes. So before you give your verdict on this issue, weigh the evidence first.
List of Advantages of Juveniles Being Tried As Adults
1. It gives justice to the victims and their loved ones.
There may be some offenses that are forgive-able, but for extreme cases like murder, just punishment must be given to the offender. It is a way for a victim’s family to gain some peace or reconciliation, especially since they cannot get their loved one who was taken from them back.
2. It shows that a crime is a crime no matter your age.
Giving a lighter sentence to adolescents who committed an extreme crime just because they are not yet adults can send the wrong message that they can get away with certain things, even taking another person’s life. No matter what age someone is, they must learn to take responsibility for their actions and be made to understand the consequences of bad decisions. If teenagers are not taught right from wrong before they transition into adults, they have a higher tendency to commit more crimes.
3. It helps in lowering the number of juvenile criminals.
Adolescents who are aware that they will be punished for crimes will most likely not commit them. They can be even more discouraged to attempt any criminal activity when they find out how their peers were punished.
4. It allows a fair trial by jury.
Juvenile court cases are decided only by a judge. But if teenagers are tried as adults, there will be a jury that will help decide if they are guilty or not, so the decision doesn’t lie on one person alone.
List of Disadvantages of Juveniles Being Tried As Adults
1. It puts adolescent offenders at risk.
Adult prisons are places where juveniles can be easily abused and harmed. They can also be exposed to more crime and join gangs (which are common in adult correctional facilities), becoming even more hardened criminals.
2. It can be taken as a sign of lost hope.
Young offenders could take it as a message that they have no future and no hope of becoming something else other than a criminal. This is damaging to the juveniles and to their families.
3. It gives parents a message that they can take less responsibility.
Parents should teach their children right from wrong and should shoulder some responsibility for the actions of their kids. By sending adolescents to jail, parents can be let off the hook.
4. It limits the type of punishment.
Juvenile courts can recommend counseling, house arrest, curfews, and other forms of punishment rather than giving a jail sentence. In adult courts judges have fewer choices, and sometimes the only option to choose is prison.
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