What age defines a person as an adult? In some states, such as Texas, you are considered an adult at 17 years of age. Other state’s juvenile systems make you liable to be tried as an adult at the age of 18. Law enforcement officials have been questioning the age of being tried as an adult for the past 40 years. Recently, they have come to the conclusion that children between the ages of 16 and 18 who commit adult crimes should be tried and sentenced as adults.
After researching information and cases of minors being tried as adults, I have concluded that if minor offenders were punished in the same degree as adult offenders are, the number of minors committing crimes might be reduced significantly. While it is not appropriate for these individuals to be placed in the same facilities as adult offenders, they should receive the same degree of punishment in a younger environment. These perpetrators are protected by a lenient and highly outdated juvenile system and violent youths have taken advantage of this system.
In some jurisdictions, a child may have to commit 10 to 15 serious crimes before anything is actually done. Many people believe that the juvenile system is not adequate enough to handle the serious crimes of today’s juveniles, but trying them as minors for their serious crimes isn’t helping to eliminate crime. I refer to the system as “the easy way out. ” Many of the offenders get a slap on the wrist and non-judicial sentences.
Simply sentencing these juveniles with restitution to the victim, community service, or a forfeiture of their driver’s license isn’t enough. In 1998, The Los Angeles Times states that today more than a half-million people are locked up in this country; that total grows by more than 1,000 inmates each week. The numbers have grown quite a bit since then. Not trying minors as adults for serious crimes may increase the crime rate with letting the offenders go without serious sentencing.
With this taking place, it sends a signal to the peers of the offender, letting them know that they can get away with things of that sort. If the juvenile offender were to be treated as an adult for a serious crime, their friends may get the message that they too will pay the time for committing the crime. With this type of system, the juveniles would now realize that it is working against them instead of in their favor. Harsher punishment for a harsher crime committed shows that law enforcement officials are no longer playing around.
This would reduce the crime rate by keeping those peers of offender from thinking twice before they take action that can put them in prison where they had to watch their friend go. The facilities that the juvenile offenders are kept in have been reported for their unhealthy conditions and lack of privacy. Kristin Choo says: Juveniles reportedly as young as 12 were being held in a rundown, vermin-infested jail, in crowded, airless cells that were sweltering in the summer and freezing in winter.
They were chronically hungry, fed portions far to small for growing bodies. They were also scared, as violent fights broke out continually, the combatants armed with weapons formed from materials ripped from the dilapidated plumbing. ” That environment may expose the juveniles to obscene actions like the fighting and things of adult manner, but it’s not something that they probably haven’t learned on the streets already. If they choose to commit adult crimes, then it shouldn’t be a bad thing for them to be exposed to the adult mannered environment in a prison.
There are alternative programs to keep juvenile offenders out of prison such as, monitored house arrest, counseling, probation and parole. The programs offer rehabilitation to the juvenile to help them to adjust to the right way of living. These alternative programs are less costly because the juvenile is working and paying taxes. Joan Petersilia says, “And so far, fewer than 10% of the offenders in the alternative programs have committed new crimes (and most of them were misdemeanors), compared with about 50% of regular probationers and released prisoners.
Some people believe that the effectiveness of these programs may increase in years to come, but is it worth the wait? If these programs aren’t helping the juvenile right away, then what’s to say that they won’t go back and commit the same crime? In my opinion, I am in agreement with DeWayne Wickham talks about the Juvenile Crime Control Act. Wickham says, “[T]he legislation makes it possible for minors as young as 13 to be tried as adults when accused of committing a serious violent crime.
It also mandates tough penalties for repeat juvenile offenders }. ” With the juvenile system making changes now to crack down on juvenile offenders, I consider the adult sentencing to be the best thing for those offenders. Another issue is that they are too young to understand that what they are doing is wrong (Estudillo). With the age of being considered an adult by law ranging from 17-18, it’s hard to put your finger on what defines a “serious” crime. Is a 17 year old too young to know what he or she is doing while committing the crime?
If there were mental issues involved then it would be a different story, but for an average 17-year-old to commit what the law considers an “adult crime”, then they should be sentenced as one. Silvio Carrillo says, “Minors who commit serious crimes because they do not recognize the value of life should be subject to the same punishment that adults are. ” There is no excuse to why these juveniles should be committing such crime in the first place, much less not being properly punished for them. “It’s not about giving children second chances.
It’s about making them responsible for their actions”, says Estudillo. As the system is now, minors believe that until they reach a certain age, the law does not apply to them. The juvenile system has begun to crack down on juvenile offenders. Since 1985, the U. S. has executed more juvenile offenders than all other countries combined (Carrillo). More severe punishment could possible strike fear into the hearts of the offenders’ peers, helping to reduce the crime rate. It’s time that someone is held responsible.