Corrections Position Paper:
Juveniles Tried as Adults
by Michael Holland
There are thousands of children who have been sentenced as adults and shipped off to adult prisons all across the United States. The juvenile justice focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment, as is the modern trend in corrections compared to the past. Although the focus is on rehabilitation and recidivism, until offenders are willing to accept the responsibilities and consequences for their own actions, change cannot occur. Each state’s statutes outline the guidelines that determine whether or not a juvenile offender should be tried as an adult. It would be foolish to ignore both security and safety ...view middle of the document...
All that being said, I still firmly stand in a position of belief that children should not be tried as an adult. Our focus should be on finding an alternative in order to rehabilitate this individual. There is no denying the statistics from juveniles. “In 2002, 12% of our population in the U.S. lived at or below their poverty thresholds. This proportion was far greater for children under age 18 (17%) than for people ages 18–64 (11%) and those above age 64 (10%). The youngest children were the most likely to live in poverty”. (Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report) So many young children in the United States are affected by not only poverty, but abuse, domestic and community violence, and neglect as well. It is at this point in a child’s life where we need to intervene and help. If we are ineffective in our efforts our youth struggle, suffer, and can fall into a sense of hopelessness. Mental health is a highly discussed stigma in society today and for young teens the task of managing this emotional, social, and psychological challenges at such a young age can have a direct correlation to violent and destructive behavior. Instead of our states sentencing our juvenile offenders to further abuse and victimization in an adult correctional facility we should be attacking the crisis which creates juvenile delinquency head on.
The question then asked is why am I against juveniles being tried as adults. Setting personal feelings and inclinations aside, there are several concrete factors that I believe everyone can find reason in. At such a young age can we really determine whether or not that child truly understands what they have done. There are studies that have been done demonstrating how the adolescent brain doesn’t process jail time the way the adult brain does. While adults tend to spend their sentence reflecting on what they have done, it is shown that juveniles replay the memory of their crime.
This ties into the next point of whether or not the juvenile understands the severity of the crime they committed. It is said that the brain is not fully developed until the age of eighteen years old, although that can be argued as too soon still. A juvenile offender does not have a fully developed brain to process the right and wrong like an adult does. Take into the fact that most of our juvenile offenders lack a strong adult presence...