Juvenile JusticeThe U.S. Justice Department estimates that about 10 percent of all homicides are committed by juveniles under the age of 18. Nearly every year, the FBI arrests more than “33 thousand young adults under the age of 18” for offenses.
National Academic Press notes that “juveniles are charged with delinquencies, not crimes, and are sent to adult prisons not as punishment, but to reform and improve their future actions” (139). It is morally wrong to let 10% of all homicides pass without justice. The U.S.
should continue to allow for juveniles to be tried in adult court under certain circumstances because the juvenile justice system is ill-equipped and ill-experienced to handle juveniles who commit violent crimes, delivering justice and fairness to the victim, and for people who argue for the juvenile’s wellness, the adult court provides juveniles with advantages that the juvenile justice system can’t provide. The Juveniles Justice System is not well equipped to handle violent juvenile criminalsThe juvenile justice system fails to establish that crime should be avoided at all costs. The punishments in the juvenile justice system are very light and fails to sway the morals of a juvenile, especially with a juvenile who has committed a violent crime. Again, according to the National Academies Press, “juveniles are not charged with crimes, but rather with delinquencies; they are not found guilty, but rather are adjudicated delinquent; they are not sent to prison, but to training school or reformatory” (139). This would fail to change the juvenile’s morals and correct the juvenile’s course of actions. Linda J. Collier, a guardian ad litem, an advocate for children whose welfare is a matter of concern for the court in the Philadelphia juvenile justice system, a lawyer , and a teacher of a course on juvenile delinquency at Cabrini College in Radnor, Pennsylvania, claims that the juvenile justice system was developed with “truants, vandals and petty thieves in mind”.
However, it was not developed for violent crimes. The allowance of juveniles being tried in adult court in 1991, which was the zenith of juvenile crimes, was a response to the “dramatic rise in juvenile violence”, not a negative response against youth (1). According to the U.S. Department of Justice, juvenile arrest regarding forcible rape decreased from 22 per 100,000 10 to 17 year olds to 8 per 100,000 10 to 17 year olds from 1991 to 2013 (3). The allowance of juveniles being tried in adult court has proven to be effective. Additionally, the allowance of trying certain juveniles as adults will help deliver justice deserved to the victim. According to Mary Onelia Estudillo, author of The Guardian, the student newspaper of the University of California at San Diego, juvenile criminals fail to sympathize with the victims, they “fail put themselves in the position of the daughters whose Dartmouth parents were brutally stabbed in the head and chest by 16- and 17-year- old boys.
They forget the pain of the Columbine shootings. They forget to put themselves in the shoes of a parent whose 5-year- old daughter was killed for her bike. They forget that a crime is a crime, regardless of the offender age.
They forget that sometimes, the criminal justice system works harder for the criminal than the victim”. Just the thought of a loved one being harmed is sickening and devastating. The age of the offender shouldn’t be taken into account when serving justice. The age of the offender does not change how severe the outcome is. The outcome of a crime is the same whether it was committed by a juvenile or adult. If the outcomes of the crime are tantamount, then why shouldn’t juveniles be tried accordingly?For ones who argue for the wellbeing of the juvenile, the adult court provides advantages to the juvenile that the juvenile justice system cannot provide. There are advantages for juveniles being tried in adult court that aren’t given in the juvenile justice system.
The right to trial by jury in the United States Constitution belongs only to adults. In 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court held that there’s no jury-trial right in juvenile delinquency proceedings. In addition, according to Kathleen Michon, a law author on NOLO, being tried in adult court gives a juvenile more constitutional protections. Judges in adult court may also be more sympathetic towards minors.
Furthermore, in some jurisdictions where dockets and jails are crowded, the court may be inclined to dispose of the juvenile’s case more quickly and impose a lighter sentence. Trial in adult court provides advantages for a juvenile the juvenile justice system doesn’t. Some may try to counter my argument with the fact that juveniles are targets of sexual abuse in adult jail.
However, juveniles in the juvenile detainment systems are also targets of sexual abuse. Hundreds of teen-agers are raped or sexually assaulted during their stays in the country’s juvenile detention facilities, and many of them are victimized repeatedly, according to a U.S. Department of Justice survey.
Others may say that a juvenile should not be tried as adults because their minds don’t fully develop until their mid twenties. While that may be true, I don’t believe it makes a big difference. Should age really matter when dealing justice? Does the severity of a crime change the outcome and the consequences? No I don’t believe it should in the current case.
Juveniles older than the age of 10 are allowed to be tried in adult court. I remember when I was 10, and so might many of you. My brain was not fully developed, yes, but I knew the difference between right or wrong. The juveniles who commit these violent crimes should have been aware of the consequences. How can we say that a child doesn’t understand what death is, when they are surrounded by violence all around them?My peers, you have heard my arguments for today’s resolution.
The juvenile justice system is ill equipped for handling juveniles that commit violent crime. The juvenile system was not developed for handling violent juveniles, so the option of trying juveniles as adults should stay as an option. In addition to the incapability of the juvenile justice system, it is not fair to the victim and the victim’s close ones.
The age of the offender is immaterial to the victim’s close ones. The age of the offender does not change the severity of the crime. A life lost at the hands of a criminal does not get returned just because the offender is a juvenile. A crime is a crime. Furthermore, there are advantages for juveniles that are tried in adult court. They get more options then they will in juvenile court like the right to a trial by jury. My brothers and sisters, I urge you to support my arguments.
If we stop trying juveniles as adults under any circumstances, juveniles will take advantage of this miniscule slap on the wrist and commit more crimes. If we continue to try adults under certain circumstances, we will deliver justice that we owe to the victims. Let us not forget the pain of the victim’s close ones. Let us not forget by making way for harsher punishments, we also save more juvenile lives. Let us not forget that the victims of the Columbine shootings,which were by juveniles, were young children.
So before we go and think about the juvenile criminal as a child in danger, let’s not forget the lives of the juveniles harmed by those you consider a “child”.