Should Juveniles Be Tried As Adults
Whether to try juveniles as adults or as minors has elicited heightened controversy. The statistics today shows that individuals who commit criminal offenses have not gripped the notion that crime does not pay particularly among minors. Instead, according to the Justice Department, serious criminal offenses such as rape, assault, robbery with violence, drug trafficking have increased among juveniles to 30 percent with ten percent of all homicides being at the hands of juveniles. With such numbers, it is evident that juveniles are causing more harm to a country, and since, ‘they are old enough to commit serious crimes, then they are old enough to do the time.” Thus, they should be tried as adults.
Juvenile criminals deserve to receive serious punishment. The creation of the juvenile system aimed at providing rehabilitation services for minor offenders who commit crimes such as vandalism, stealing and shoplifting among others and according to Forensic Psychologist Andrew Day, it works. Nevertheless, youths in the current generation observing this system as a slap on the back and use it to commit heinous crimes because they know the juvenile law system will let them off. Thus, despite the fact that incarceration does not offer solutions to criminal problems in a country, punishing juveniles by trying them in adult courts is necessary. Protecting criminals because of their age derails the efforts of reducing criminal activities, loss of lives, providing justice to the victims and using it as a deterrent to further crime as they are likely to experience serious punishment. Moreover, giving second chances to every crime particularly the serious ones, the youths continue destroying people’s lives and the country at large because the law opts not to inflict severe punishment.
Opponents of trying juveniles as adults argue that juvenile criminals should not be put in adult prisons nor be treated as them as they are likely to be mistreated and abused, which is a good argument. Additionally, they argue that children and teenagers are capable of learning and changing thus, rehabilitation is the effective punishment. In my opinion, this argument is uninformed because these juvenile criminals commit unlawful activities that are at par with those committed by adults, thus I fail to see why their punishments should be different. Moreover, there are habits that juvenile criminals commit that they cannot forget. For instance, in the case of two teenagers Juan Castaneda seventeen and Eric Ramirez nineteen, who in 2008 committed theft and in the process killed two people, injured another and attempted to kill others. In my opinion, such actions are difficult to unlearn.
Accountability is necessary from criminals. Victims perceive the juvenile system as an injustice. Families of the rape, murder and violence victims watch as the law shield perpetrators of their loss and horror with leniency eliciting a feeling of lack of justice. It is true that teens’ cognitive development and the environment they grow in pushes them toward crime. However, they need to be responsible for their actions as each person even minors have the capability to understand that a certain behavior is a criminal offense and it is wrong. Therefore, treating them as adults sets a precedent that deter future delinquent behavior and makes a point that introduction of tough measures to them is a likelihood.
In conclusion, juvenile criminals such as murderers, rapists, and violent individuals, should be tried as adults and receive serious punishments. Just as their age does not prevent them from committing these heinous crimes, so should it not deter them from receiving the maximum penalties to enforce accountability for actions and punishment.