Taking a Side

January 13, 2010
Stop right where you are, and pretend that for five minutes, you are nine years old again. Now let’s just say that two days earlier, you attempted robbery at a nearby bank because you thought it would be so much fun to act just like a Heath Ledger character and do something daring and adventurous. Plus, mommy never told you that stealing is wrong. Now, imagine that you are at your trial and bunches of mean old people in black suits are making you go to prison! What did I do wrong? I never meant to hurt anyone or cause harm! You think all these things in vain because it looks like jail is unavoidable now… But believe it or not, this is the situation that judges, juries, families, and individuals all across America are facing every day. Minors are being sent to prison where they meet their destiny of a life sentence in jail. To me, and many other citizens of the United States, this situation seems un-called for. I think it is unjust that minors should be tried as adults, and be faced with a treacherous life in adult prison.

For my argument, I decided to take the side of Mike Hendricks and his article, “Stop trying 13-year-olds as adults.” In this article, Mr. Hendricks is insisting, “that 14 is too young to be considered an adult”(1). I must say that I agree with this statement. Although committing crimes at any age is wrong, and that “yes” there must always be consequences for your actions, I think it is important that children should be given a second chance. Let’s just say that a child at 14 is tried as an adult for a murder she is accused of committing a year earlier when she was 13. This girl could face a lifetime at prison for one wrong choice made when she was still just a child. You see the fact of the matter is, that “kids are not adults. Their brains are wired differently. They don’t think things out the way we do”(Hendricks 1). Children often don’t understand what death really is, and they don’t realize that once someone is gone, they are gone forever. My thought of this situation is that if minors commit a crime and are proven guilty, they should be sent to juvenile prison for a pre-designated amount of time. After that time, if they remain pure and free of crime, they don’t go back to jail. If, however, they have been proven to be mentally ill, or continue to be guilty of more crime, they go to jail for the rest of their life and if possible, receive mental help.

The other side of this argument is choosing to believe that, “Juvenile criminals must be tried as adults” by Jessica Wilde. There are many points in this story that I believe are at fault. For example, Jessica Wilde states that, “All crimes committed by juveniles should and must be treated in the same regard, if not to punish heinous acts, then to provide justice to the families of victims”(2). However, I think it wise to ask your self the question, “What if the child being accused of the crime ends up in jail ‘where they are abused and come out more dangerous and damaged than when they went in?’”(Hendricks 2). This is something that I think everyone in doubt should consider. How can children expect to change for the better if the sights surrounding them in adult prison are only further poisoning their minds? Secondly, “Some may argue that minors do not understand the significance of their actions, that they don’t understand the enormity of what they have done or how it has hurt others…it was said that the two boys set out that morning with the intention of hurting or killing a young child for fun”(Wilde 2). In the previous statement, Jessica Wilde tries to prove to the reader that kids do know what they are doing. Yes, it is true that children, in the short run, do know what they’re intentions are for today, but when it comes down to it, let’s face the fact that kids are kids. They have so much more to learn about how precious life is. The boys in the previous article may have enjoyed picking on the child as a way of dealing with their own internal anger towards life. Hopefully, as these boys mature, they will develop more effective ways to deal with personal struggle rather than taking it out on someone else. But all of these life lessons and developments must be acquired through teaching and being taught. God made us so that we would learn as we grew; we were NEVER born perfect. I still must add, however, that the actions of those adolescent boys are inexcusable and will not go without consequences. Lastly, Jessica Wilde states that morals are inherited from birth and “people either have morals or they don’t: there is no gray area”(2). However, I wish to remind everyone once again that isn’t childhood part of what gaining idea of what is right and what is wrong all about? Isn’t childhood the point in life where we are taught about good morality? If I were you, I would think about this idea for a while and next time, don’t be so quick to throw away a life that could hold promise if given a second chance.

In the end, I think it can be said that today’s society expects too much of our children these days. As it is, children are already growing up way too fast and I think that sometimes we forget that children aren’t supposed to know everything, and in my opinion, that is sure something we can count our blessings for. So, America, the choice is yours-what are you going to do about the trial of minors as adults?

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