Age is just one out of a million facts.

January 13, 2010
By Rachel Driver SILVER, Houston, Texas
Rachel Driver SILVER, Houston, Texas
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments

In a courtroom, a judge is handed a white folder containing a criminal case, and that judge’s job is deal with the criminal. How would you deal with a criminal? What would you base a punishment on? Are you all about the facts, or are there exceptions? Assume you are a judge, you were just handed that white folder, and you open the folder and inside is case where a 13-year-old boy has stolen a flat screen television from Best Buy. What do you do? Lets say you make the boy do a few community service hours because he is just a teenager who wanted a TV. Now rewind, you open the white folder again and inside there is a different case. A 13-year-old boy has committed murder. Now, what do you do? Yes, the boy is still just a young teenager, but he has now killed someone. Do you still treat him like a kid, even though he committed murder? At what limit does a person’s age cease to apply? Should kids be tried as adults in a courtroom or not? This is a debate that is being argued all around the world. Should a punishment have if, ands, or buts? I believe that the facts are the facts, the crimes are the crimes, and those who commit them should defiantly pay their time no matter their age.

I believe kids should be tried based purely on the extent of their crime. I’m not saying that a kid should always be treated like an adult in a courtroom. Punishment should be based on the facts; for example, if a teenager breaks into a store to get a video game, it is much different then if a teenager breaks into a store to trash the place and steal a diamond necklace. The facts of the crime are that obviously trashing a store and stealing a diamond necklace is much worse than taking a video game. The crimes are different, and the punishments should be also. You may be asking yourself, but what if the facts are a person’s age. The facts can be a lot of things. The facts can be what a person did, when the person did it, why the person did it, and even how old that person is. So should kids be tried as adults? Yes, if that’s how serious the crime is. When a proper punishment is not given there are many consequences. Say someone was beaten and nearly killed, and then when it was all said and done, the criminal really didn’t get a punishment. How do you think that makes the victim and the family feel? Or say that same criminal felt like it was really no big deal beating a person, because in the end, they didn’t get in trouble. What makes you think that same criminal won’t beat another innocent person or even kill another human being? There are many criminals that weren’t given a severe enough punishment; for instance, sometimes a few rehabilitation meetings or even time in juvenile prison just don’t do the trick and adult prison is the last resort. Sometimes when it comes down to it, a kid has to be punished like an adult because not giving her or she their consequences can cause many problems for the future.

What does the other side of the argument think? The opposing side believes a few things. One of their main reasons not to try kids as adults in a courtroom was stated by Mike Hendricks. Hendricks said, “The fact is, kids are not adults. Their brains are wired differently. They don’t think things out the way we do” (1). This is true, but only to certain limits. All kids are born with common sense, whether or not they grew up in a stable household environment. A good kid, a kid that has strong morals, sensibility, and sense of what’s right or wrong, will think things out and keep in mind the effects and consequences of their own actions. The fact is, thinking things out is apart of growing up. Hendricks mentions in his paper, titled “Stop trying 13-year-olds as adults in the courtroom”, a few examples of kids being tried as adults. Written by Mike Hendricks, one of the many examples is when “… a Wyandotte County judge determined this week by deciding that Keaire Brown, 14, will be tried as an adult for a murder she’s accused of committing when she was just 13.” There are many things wrong with Hendricks example. First of all, this teenage girl had obviously committed murder, so why would she no be accused of murder? And at the age of thirteen, you know that it is absolutely wrong to kill someone. So why should this teenage girl not have to face the consequences of her own actions? You and I both know that every human from the age of 11 to 100 is fully aware that it is not in anyway right to murder someone. As I mentioned before, the facts are the facts. And if someone was murdered, then the person who committed the crime should be accused of murder. So what do you think when Hendricks says, “Sure, it’s shocking to think that kids so young could stand accused of murder”(1)? Now Houston’s court system is not in the least bit perfect, but most of the judges won’t accuse a man or women of committing murder when they did no such thing. Obviously, if a man, women or even kid commits murder, then he or she committed murder. Now, say you don’t send a teen criminal to adult prison or even juvenile detention; let’s say you only make them go to rehabilitation meetings. You gave that child a second chance. What would be great is if that child took the meetings seriously and changed from it; but in reality, that rarely happens. What most children and teens do is take that second chance and throw it right back into you’re face. A lot of the time, you send a child to rehabilitation and they make a complete joke about it. Some children will maybe break the law one or two more times, during the time of rehabilitation. So are kids always denied a chance at rehabilitation? No, of course not. It is when a kid takes that second chance for granted and no longer is sent to rehab, but instead real life prison. In adult prison, criminals are forced to face the consequences of their actions, and this is a good thing. Yet, Mike Hendricks thinks other wise. Hendricks argues, yet “where is the outrage over trying kids as adults, then sending them to adult prisons where they’re abused and come out more dangerous and damaged than when they went in?”(2). I will say that adult prison is no fairytale scene, but there have been many cases where people come out learning something new and leave having a brighter and more positive outlook on life.

Dealing with the consequences of criminals is no easy breeze. The fact of the fact is criminals are people who have done something wrong and broken the law. And criminals must be forced to face the effects and outcomes of their actions. A criminal can be a teenager. It’s a fact. A criminal should sometimes be sent to adult prison. It, too, is a fact. There are times where a kid should be tried as an adult in the courtroom. So what? If adult prison is what it takes to learn a lesson, then adult prison it is.

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