Let the Punishment Fit the Crime

January 10, 2010
Although people under the age of eighteen committed only 854 out of nearly 16,000 murders in 2004, the decision of whether to try a minor as an adult is a controversial(http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_04/offenses_reported/violent_crime/murder.html). This issue is important because trying a minor as an adult can drastically affect the severity of the punishment he or she will receive. Trying someone as a minor means that he or she will receive punishments, and trying someone as an adult means that he or she will receive harsher sentences. The fairness of the person’s punishment depends on making the right decision about whether to try the offender as a minor or an adult. Minors who commit heinous crimes should be tried as adults to ensure that the justice is served.

When a minor commits a murder or another heinous crime, the judge has to make the decision either to try the minor as a juvenile or an adult. This is a very important decision because this decision can affect the minor’s sentence in so many ways. For example, being tried as an adult can mean going to an adult prison instead of a juvenile detention center, receiving a longer sentence, or having a criminal record for life. The judge has to take all these circumstances under consideration when making a decision

I think the minor should be tried as an adult because I think all people who commit terrible crimes should be punished. When minor is tried as a juvenile they have the opportunity to be released very early, even when the crime is very shocking. For example, when two ten-year-old-boys killed two-year-old Jamie Bulger, “with the intention of hurting or killing a young child for fun,” they were released and started new lives under new identities (Wilde 1). The punishment was not great enough to fit the crime that they committed because this makes, “it seem excusable after a short period of remorse” (1). These two killers were allowed to go free after a relatively short period of time, sending the message that murder is acceptable. Minors have morals and know right from wrong, just like adults. Good moral behavior is expected because “morals are inherent from birth, the acknowledgement of right from wrong and the respect of following those lines are unchangeable foundations a person is built upon from the beginning” (1). People of all ages should be able to follow moral rules. When minors commit serious crimes, they should be held responsible for their actions.

Many people think that minors should not be tried as adults. Some people think “their brains are wired differently” than adult minds (Hendricks 1). However, Jamie Bulger’s ten-year-old killers, “ laid his body on a railroad track with the intention of causing substantial injury which would cover up what they had done to the child” (Wilde 1). The ten-year-olds tried to cover up their crime, so their actions show an understanding of the crime and what the consequences might be. These children plotted a murder and should not be expected to think like normal children. Some people also worry about the effects of prison on a young person. Hendricks believes that if minors go to prison, they will be, “abused and come out more dangerous and damaged when they went in” (Hendricks 2). However, also it seems reasonable that that the minor would be less dangerous after prison because he would not want to return. He or she would have an incentive not to commit the crime again because the punishment was so harsh. The reasons for not trying minors as adults are legitimate concerns, but they do not apply to every case.

To ensure justice, minors need to be tried as adults for the crimes they commit. This is the only way to make sure that murderers get the punishment they deserve for the crime they committed. It is true that there are concerns about trying minors as adults and sending them to adult prisons, but trying minors as adults in the case of a heinous crime is the right thing to do because terrible crimes deserve harsh punishment. Murder committed by minors makes up only a small percentage of the murder rate, but it is important that these crimes receive the punishment they deserve because serious crimes like murder should have great consequences in order to discourage people from committing them.





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