Along with Somalia, the United States is one of two countries in the world that have not ratified a United Nations convention that requires countries to have a minimum age to consider a child criminally culpable. According to Amnesty International, it in sending juveniles to prison for life without the possibility of parole. In some parts of the country children are automatically charged as adults when accused of homicide. Two recent cases have exposed ambiguities in the criminal justice system and drawn criticism from those who question whether the law should ever treat children as adults.
“The thread that ties the two cases is the threat of adult prosecution,” , the deputy director and chief counsel of the Juvenile Law Center, told Op-Talk. But another thing they have in common, Ms. Levick said, was that “each scenario can be properly managed in the juvenile justice system.”
It's unlikely that America's thirst for vengeance will be sated by scientific theory. We are, as a nation, very much in favor of treating child criminals as adults a recent ABC news poll showed 55 percent of us believe the crime, not the perpetrator's age, should be the determining factor in sentencing.
Harsh sentencing acts as a deterrent to kids who are considering committing crimes. Trying children as adults has coincided with lower rates of juvenile crimes. Light sentences don't teach kids the lesson they need to learn: If you commit a terrible crime, you will spend a considerable part of your life in jail.
The first juvenile court was established in Chicago in 1899. Until then, minors above seven years of age were brought to trial in a regular criminal court, although many countries have already operated designated prisons for juvenile offenders. Throughout the following 50 years, the courts have evolved to a significantly different form from the rest of the system. Most importantly was the multidimensional approach towards the child, tailoring rehabilitation programs which best fit his specific situation. In some cases, however, young offenders were tried in criminal courts, as some still happens today.
The psychological view asserts that it is immoral to submit juveniles to adult punishments because it a less effective measure for curbing criminal activities amongst the developing minds. The psychological effects that are inflicted by this measure will most likely cause the offender to repeat the criminal activity. Physical or sexual molestation to the juvenile offenders within the first periods of admission into correctional centre by the adult culprits can lead to psychological impairments if carried over for the entire period of imprisonment.
Writing for , Ms. Levick also points out that the child was given coloring books while held in isolation in an adult prison. “It confirms, in that simple gesture, the wrongheaded thinking behind a law that would allow the adult confinement and prosecution of a 10-year old child.”
Over the past decades juvenile criminal activity consistently increased, this has made it necessary to prosecute the juveniles accused of more serious crimes as adults. Regardless of the age of the offender, a uniform punishment should be admitted for any major criminal offence (Reaves, 6). An offence such as an act of murder should be allocated a uniform degree of punishment such as death penalty or life imprisonment irrespective of the level of maturity of the offender.
In the modern society Juvenile offences should be reconsidered and the offenders to be exposed a justice system that has a two court system, this is because the crimes that are committed by the juveniles are on the high rise. The high rate of these crimes is attributed to the lenience that is given to the offenders. Trying the juveniles in adult court systems with the same magnitude of capital punishment is the correct measure that should be taken (CliffsNotes, 5). However this step has stirred up many different views that have seen the international lobby groups strongly coming up with advocacy for children rights that opposes these measures.
The young football players’ shocking behavior has rocked New Jersey. for local publications show that respondents would like to see the defendants tried as adults. Some bring up the argument that a harsh punishment for similar behaviors. Victim advocates have said in the past that some children are beyond redemption. “While juvenile advocates often note that a youth’s brain is still developing, we all learn from an extremely early age that killing is wrong,” say of the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Offenders at The New York Times.
Psychologically, it has been proved that adults have high levels of competence compared to the juveniles which calls for a gap in the justice system for the two groups. This is further strengthened with the fact that the juveniles have higher potential for change as compared to the adults and therefore should be given a chance to be rehabilitated.
Most societies in the world have chosen to treat the offences committed by the juveniles as mere delinquent mistakes that can be settled in a separate and more considerate justice system that has been designed with the objective of recognizing the vulnerable status of the juveniles and with a high consideration of their special needs (Wilde, 3). Under this system of justice rehabilitation is highly encouraged over capital punishment that is reserved for the adult criminals.
The nature of human development from juvenile to adult hood coupled with justice and raising juvenile crimes are amongst the things that puzzle many people. The society as a whole does not expect children to be criminals. A dilemma is created with the continuous correlation between the juveniles and criminality world wide, this creates difficulty in solving. This leaves the justice system with two alternatives; either it formulates a means of redefining the juvenile offences or the juvenile be termed as responsible adults liable for their offences.