Order in the Court | Teen Ink

Order in the Court

January 12, 2010
By alexa_elizabeth BRONZE, Houston, Texas
alexa_elizabeth BRONZE, Houston, Texas
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Is ten years old too young to be put in jail for a crime that you committed? What about forgiveness and second chances? Children at 10 have everything in their life to look forward to, but a life sentence? Is that necessary? Many people, for example Jessica Wilde, believe that no matter what their age is, they need to serve their time in jail. On the other side, Mike Hendricks believes that children should be given a second chance to prove that they will change instead of assuming they will not by putting them in jail. So what do you believe?

I am fourteen and I know that I am definitely not an adult nor would I like to be treated as an adult. If a fourteen-year-old committed a crime, do you think they should go to jail? In an article that a man named Mike Hendricks wrote few years ago, he explains his reasoning for why he believes that children should not be tried as adults. Hendricks stated that, “The fact is, kids are not adults. Their brains are wired differently. They don’t think things out the way we do” (1). Children’s acts are not well planned or thought through. I think that if a child came to you and said I really want to hurt someone and then you told them all of their consequences, then some of them would probably change their minds. Of course I know that children know that perhaps murdering someone is bad, but they do not know the full consequence for what they are doing. Sure, they probably know by watching television that you go to jail for murdering someone, but they are children, they think that crying and begging and saying they are sorry will get them out of anything. Something also confusing is the question that, why are kids allowed to be tried as adults when they are not legally an adult yet? Until they are eighteen, they are not allowed to “vote, make out wills, sign leases, or decide on medical treatment without parental consent,” so therefore they should not be tried as an adult because they are not, they are just minors (Hendricks 1). Legally, until they are eighteen, they cannot go to jail and they are still considered a minor. Why would they want to go against the law and trial them to jail?
Many will argue that children should be tried as adults because they understand what they are doing and have common sense to know that what they are doing is wrong. Many people will also argue that “children’s brains are not wired like adults are” and therefore their brains are not fully developed and do not think their actions through (Hendricks 1). I personally believe that children should not be tried as adults because they are still children and they do not understand and think like adults do.
Juvenile was once created for those criminals who were not yet eighteen and were not ready for adult prison. I find juvenile to be very useful and definitely a better alternative than jail. Juvenile is a better alternative than jail for a minor because most likely, they will come out even worse than they were when they entered. Some people may argue that juvenile does not change children. I think that if a child is dedicated to stopping and really wants to get better, that juvenile could be that wakeup call they have been waiting for. Jessica Wilde says, “The obvious problem in trying minors as minors and not treating them in the same way for the same crimes is that rehabilitation will not fix these young criminals (1). Before someone makes a statement about this, I think that they should have proof from over a few hundred kids that have not changed because of rehabilitation because all children are different and it does not matter if one child does not change because there is hope that another will change so how do you know if they will change if you never give them the chance? The opposite side claims that there is therapy in jail and they could go to therapy in jail. Juvenile is meant for rehab and fixing their problems, so the therapy in a Juvenile facility will be much more useful because that’s what they are trained to know. If a child was sent to jail, the hope of them learning what they did was wrong is smaller because they did not go through proper rehab. The family members of the victim will want the child to go to jail because it has affected them because it was their family member, but what if you were on the other end. What if your child was the one that killed a 2-year-old baby? Would you want your son to be sentenced to life and prison and never be able to have a childhood again because of one thing that he did wrong? The children who go to jail will most likely have a very long sentence and when they come out, if they do, they will never be a child again, they will be all grown up and they will not ever even know what it is like to be a child. The opposite side claims that children know exactly what they are doing and have enough knowledge to know that they should not be doing what they are doing. Well, of course this is true for adults, but we are talking about kids here. Children are still so young and have so much to learn. Jessica Wilde states that, “morals are inherent from birth” (1). How can morals be inherited from birth? When you are two years old and you steal a piece of gum from a candy store, do you know that it is wrong to steal? I believe that all morals are taught to them from their parents or respected authority in their life. If your mother or father was doing drugs or something bad, then that is the way you grew up and you might go down that path. I am not saying that every child with bad parents will turn out like them, I am just saying that if a child has parents that are bad influences, he or she should go live with a healthy safe family member and maybe get therapy to prevent them going down the same path.
So what do you believe? Do you think that children should be tried as adults? Or do you think that children deserve a second chance at life to correct what they did wrong?

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