My Essay 4 Final: Kids Playing by Adult Rules

wpid-download.pngDionne Lowe

Dr. Skutar

English 1001

Argumentive Essay


Kids Playing by Adult Rules

Recently the news has been filled with adolescents being prosecuted as adults; and never stepping foot inside of a juvenile court room. Just last year on the news two teenagers were arrested for assault and robbery and sentenced to 20 years in prison, they were 16 years old. Although no one had been murdered, the teens were robbing people and with a hand gun. When released, the juveniles will be 36 years old, and will have spent the majority of their life in prison. They will not be able to work because they now have a felony record of assault and robbery. This record will follow them everywhere, assuming they made it out prison alive. The courts saw fit to place 16 year olds into a confined area with rapist, and murders.

The article “Placing Juveniles in the Adult Criminal Justice System is Counterproductive” states that “Even limited exposure to such an environment can cause anxiety, paranoia, exacerbate existing mental disorders, and increase risk of suicide. In fact, youth have the highest suicide rates of all inmates in jails. Youth are 19 times more likely to commit suicide in jail than youth in the general population and 36 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than in a juvenile detention facility. Jail staff are simply not equipped to protect youth from the dangers of adult jails.” Placing the youth in isolation can possible do more harm than good because they interact with no one their age. To me there was no justice for these boys. They should have had their day in juvenile court but they did not. I think the only time a juvenile should be tried as an adult is when they have committed rape or murder.

Jennifer Grimes wrote an article called “Judging Juveniles: Prosecuting Adolescents in Adult and Juvenile Courts”. Grimes explains the unfairness that juveniles are up against in criminal court. Stating that “Testing the assumption held by policy makers and academics that juveniles processed in criminal court are subjected to an entirely different model of justice, Kupchip utilizes a rigorous, mixed-methods research design to determine how similar cases are processed at every stage in the two court systems. He finds that, especially during the sentencing of adolescent offenders, criminal court begins to resemble its juvenile counterpart. Kupchip also concludes that prosecuting youth in criminal rather than juvenile court is inconsistent with our cultural conceptions of youthfulness.” Meaning that the thought process applied to convict a grown man for assault and robbery is also applied to convict a 16 year old boy. Grimes states that “The number of juveniles transferred to adult, criminal court has steadily increased since the mid-1970s.” This is not good at all the number of these cases have increased instead of decreasing, no one is helping our youth.

The article, “Placing Juveniles in Adult Criminal Justice System is Counterproductive” states that “Jails do not have the capacity to provide the necessary education and other programs crucial for the healthy development of adolescents. Even though legally required to, few jails provide appropriate education to youth. A BJS survey found that 40% of jails provided no educational services at all, only 11% of jails provided special education services, and only 7% provided vocational training” This means that programs that would help an adolescent get their life together are not promised in jails or prisons, which is a bigger set back in the long haul because their education has now been placed on hold.

When you have several teenagers who spend 15 months in adult prison with no way to continue their education they are more likely to re-offend. Liane Rozzell wrote the article “Alternatives to the Punishment-Oriented Juvenile Justice Model Are Necessary” states that “Children who spend time in adult prisons and jails are at much higher risk for assault, abuse, and suicide. They don’t get the services they need, and they are more likely to re-offend—sooner, more often, and more violently—than youth who stay in the juvenile system.”

Another article written by Donna M. Bishop states that “There is little reason . . . for not holding juveniles responsible under the same laws that apply to adults. The victim of a fifteen-year-old mugger is as much mugged as the victim of a twenty-year-old mugger; the victim of a fourteen-year-old murderer or rapist is as dead or raped as the victim of an older one. The need for social defense or protection is the same.” Meaning some people don’t care how old the person is if they committed a crime than they should be held accountable. I don’t feel this should be the mind set for dealing with people’s lives because we are human and we all make mistakes, especially 16 year old teenagers. A crime such as robbery where no one is murdered should be a 6 month sentence in a juvenile futility and then placed on a 1-2 year probation. They were 16 and they made one stupid mistake, which cost them their lives.

Apart from their age their background as well should be taken into account because violence is all around us. Some people no nothing different, some are forced into that down spiral of violence. Some people do not have a strong role model to help them onto the right path. Criminal Court almost never consider your background as to how to sentence you. However in juvenile court they take under consideration if you have no prior record, the seriousness of the crime, everything of that nature. As well as the fact that they are still teenagers and they need to continue their education.

I believe that there needs to be change in our society. Our future depends on our youth and we are convicting them to jail or prison. Instead of spending the taxpayer’s money to convict them, we could use that money for Recreational centers or big bother and big sister programs. The major reason adolescents get into trouble is because they are bored and have nothing positive to keep them busy. You see this a lot in elementary schools when a child is ahead in class they start to act out because they have nothing else to do but wait for the other children to catch up with them. Teenagers well make mistakes we all do and we will continue to make mistakes because we are human. I don’t agree to just let teenagers go about thinking that their actions do not have consequences because they do. However I also do not agree with treating them as adults. It’s not fair that they are kids playing by adult rules.

Now let’s go back to the reasons convicting adolescents in criminal court is not good for our youth. One there is a high suicide rate, two there education is on hold and that teenager is more likely to give up on their education, three teenagers are also more likely not only to re-offend but also more violently. Let’s also go back to the reasons that these adolescents make these stupid mistakes such as assault and robbery. One they are human, two there is no role model in their live to keep them one the right path, three they are bored, four adolescents feel that the one way to survive in their environment is to adapted to it. The result to the reason why these adolescents are convicted out way the reason why they were convicted.

As I stated previously, I feel the only reason adolescent should be charged in criminal court is when they are facing rape and or murder charges. The reason I feel this way is because a life has been taken. To me that is the ultimate inhuman thing that can been done. In an article called Juveniles Should Not Be Sentenced to Life Without Parole by Linda White states that “Sentencing youth to life without parole strips our young people of  hope and the opportunity  for rehabilitation” In November of 1986, Whites 26 year old daughter went missing and was later found sexually assaulted and dead, by two boys who were 15 years old. White also states “ Although many believe that criminals should suffer, she claims in this testimony before a subcommittee of the US House of Representatives that punishment does little to change behavior. Moreover, White maintains, one of the boys who killed her daughter suffered abuse at home and in foster care, and he tried to commit suicide several times as a young boy. When she met him, he expressed his remorse, confirming her belief in restorative justice.” Meaning she does not think an adolescent should be convicted with a life sentence. I agree but I still feel that they should be tried in a criminal court. They took a life and that person can never get their life back. White believes in restorative justice which is a system of criminal justice that focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large. I completely agree with this because I think this gives closure to the victims loved ones.

Some people feel very the exact same way I do about Juveniles being tried in criminal court. In the article The Criminal Justice System Should Treat Some Juveniles as Adults by James Backstrom which states that “Prosecuting juvenile offenders in adult court is appropriate and necessary in certain cases to protect public safety and hold youth appropriately accountable for their crimes.” Meaning that rape and murder should be treated as an adult. However when I say murder I mean the teenager had to had the intent to kill no questions asked. If the situation is two 15 year old boys were playing with their father’s shotgun and it goes off, killing one of them then, I think that should be tried in juvenile court.

A lot of different things should change within the juvenile system. The youth are our future. We have to protect them as well as guide them one the right path. I strongly believe in recreational centers, after school programs, and big brother and sister programs. The government would rather pay to house them in jail and prison, instead of making these programs work in everyone’s favor to protect our youth.

Works Cited

Backstrom, James C. “The Criminal Justice System Should Treat Some Juveniles as Adults.” Juvenile Crime. Ed. Louise I. Gerdes. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “Adult Prosecution Is Warranted in Certai

Cases.” 2008. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 10 June 2015.

Bishop, Donna M. “Injustice and Irrationality In.” Injustice and Irrationality In. Criminology & Public Policy, Nov. 2014. Web. 2 June 2015.

Campaign for Youth Justice. “Placing Juveniles in the Adult Criminal Justice System Is Counterproductive.” Juvenile Crime. Ed. Louise I. Gerdes. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “Jailing Juveniles: The Dangers of Incarcerating Youth in Adult Jails in America.” 2007. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 2 June 2015

Grimes, Jennifer N. “Aaron Kupchip, Judging Juveniles: Prosecuting Adolescents in Adult and Juvenile Courts.” New York University Press, 10 Aug. 2007. Web. 2 June 2015.

Rozzell, Liane Gay. “Alternatives to the Punishment-Oriented Juvenile Justice Model Are Necessary.” Juvenile Crime. Ed. Louise I. Gerdes. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “These Are Our Children: New Models Are Transforming Juvenile Justice.” Sojourners Magazine 38 (June 2009): 7. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 3 June 2015.

White, Linda L. “Juveniles Should Not Be Sentenced to Life Without Parole.” Juvenile Crime. Ed. Louise I. Gerdes. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “Testimony of Linda L. White Judiciary Committee of the US House of Representatives.” 2009. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 10 June 2015.


About lowedj

I love to read as well as write

Posted on June 11, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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