Kids are HUmans Too! But to What Extent?

January 29, 2010
By Hannah Rae SILVER, Houston, Texas
Hannah Rae SILVER, Houston, Texas
8 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Trying young criminals in a court of law as if they were adults has caused much controversy all over America. After reading two articles- “Juvenile Criminals Must Be Tried as Adults” and “Stop Trying 13-Year-Olds in Court as Adults,” -discussing the ongoing argument on whether or not to try underage criminals like all other felons, two main claims of the argument have been established. Some believe that children should be treated as adults while others believe that children should be treated as minors.
When it comes to whether government should try young criminals as adults, I believe that kids are kids and should be provided with rehabilitation opportunities. Many, such as Mike Hendricks, the writer of “Stop Trying 13-Year-Olds in Court as Adults,” share this view. He believes that rehabilitation is the right path for delinquents under eighteen. He considers it morally right to treat kids like minors. This side of the argument states that the under-aged offenders’ brains are “malleable”, or easily changed. They think that their mistakes can be corrected. Mike wrote that he was once a teenager and has a teen of his own. He believes that young people are prone to make mistakes and that “the fact is, kids are not adults. Their brains are wired differently” (Hendricks 15). Also, David R. Francis brought up a valid point that:
Since the 1990s, when virtually every state in the country made it easier to try juveniles as adults, research about this practice has revealed dangers: higher percentages of repeat offenses (and more violent ones) than for comparable youths who went through the juvenile justice system with its support and rehabilitation services. Studies show minors in adult facilities may experience more emotional distress, physical abuse, and suicide. Even if they come away with only probation, their convictions stand as roadblocks to jobs.
Although none were criminal offenses, I know some people who made mistakes throughout their childhood and teenage years. They were thankful to be given a second chance. I know firsthand that minors’ brains are able to change. Often, teenagers see what they want and see what they can get but don’t consider the consequences. As a result, they can be imprisoned for not thinking their actions through. For such reasons, I believe that criminals shouldn’t be harshly penalized for crimes a person makes when one is under age. Minors should be sent to a rehabilitation home and be allowed to complete their schooling until they become a legal adult. At that stage, a decision should be made whether they go to jail or be kept on probation until their release is once again evaluated. I believe, children who commit a crime under the age of eighteen could be subject to change with corrective teaching and should be given the chance.
On the other hand, others, including the writer of “Juvenile Criminals Must Be Tried as Adults,” Jessica Wilde, believe that when minors commit a crime, they should be sent to court to receive the punishment similar as any other unlawful adult. It is said that all felons must attend a proper judiciary trial, and suffer the consequences of their actions. Jessica wrote, “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…. Prevention of relapse should not be the main focus because situations like this should never arise in the first place” (4). Also, “a lack of human morals cannot be treated or cured in rehabilitation centers,” Wilde wrote (7). She believes that criminals can’t change the past and that they should suffer the consequences. Once again, I do not agree with the writer’s thoughts in this regard. In most cases, I do believe that with the right environment, good social workers, and a second chance, the criminal will be thankful for the gratitude given and not offend again. During further research on the internet, I established that there are quite a few people that believe that:
Such punishment constitutes a slap on the wrist because, if they behave well while in juvie, they are out by 21. Some of them will offend again. In fact, most of them will, unless they have undergone some type of radical change during their temporary incarceration. Secondly, the crimes committed by some underage people is so hideous and so horrendous that proper justice is not done if they are tried as any less than adults.
This claim enforces the common idea that young offenders should be treated like adults and need to be prepared to face the punishment that would be handed to an adult.

In conclusion, after carefully reviewing both sides of the argument, I am convinced that minors should not be tried as adults. If society gives the youth of today a second chance, and tries to rehabilitate these wrongdoers, it is probable that they will learn from their mistakes. By giving the minors a chance to finish high school, and not incarcerating them, they could strive to erase their bad choices and contribute positively to society.

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