Juvenile Offenders and the High Possibility of Reoffenders and Should Juveniles Be Tried As Adults
“Prosecutors say they only consider this scenario if the juvenile is deemed too dangerous for society.” Back in the 1700’s, laws did not distinguish between juveniles and adults within the criminal justice system. The issue with that, is you had kids in there for petty crimes like theft, in the same area as adults in there for first degree murder. Juvenile hall was established in 1825, an institution especially for juvenile delinquents. But in the 1970’s and 80’s, people noticed an upward spike in violent crimes, and sweeping reforms were passed to make it easier to try juveniles in adult criminal courts. There has been a decline in juvenile crime over the past 20 years, but there are still many youth getting off with violent crimes simply due to their age.
Although they are still considered children, juveniles should be tried as adults for violent crimes because the justice system treats them too gently, they get out sooner with a high chance to reoffend, and juveniles have easy access to weapons which implies higher crime rate. Nevertheless, not everyone agrees with that. For example, they can argue that they are all still young, and deserve to be given second chances.
It is unconstitutional, according to the 2012 Supreme Court. Also, their parents should be at fault, and they are the ones making weapons easily accessible and not teaching them proper safety. Lastly, jail will make them learn their lesson, and they will not want to do anything to make them go back. However, some still feel that youth should be charged as adults in violent crimes for the following reasons.
First of all, the justice system treats young people much too gently. Courts tend to focus solely on their age over the severity of the crime, and therefore end up giving them much lighter prison sentences. For example, a boy had been brutally stabbed to death, and his attacker ended up only being sent to a juvenile holding center, which is unfair. For homicide, he should have been eligible for 25 to life, like most adults over 18 years of age. But due to the fact he was only a teen, the courts ruled in favor of him instead of the victim and their loved ones.
Light sentences hurt the victims families, essentially showing them that their child did not mean enough to them in order to give the attacker a more severe sentence. Most offenders are old enough to be well aware of their actions. As a teenager, they know what homicide is, and what it means to end another person’s life. Murder is rarely an accident. Youth also commit a large percentage of overall violent crimes. Youth under 18 were arrested and charged for 19% of all violent crimes back in 2014. That alone is a large enough percentage to show that it is an issue, and something we need to work on improving. But, this is not the only major issue.
Secondly, juveniles have easy access to weapons. This access only heightens the chance of committing a violent crime, and also the crime rates amongst children and teens as a whole. For example, most teens that commit violent crimes use their parents or loved ones weapons. In Saudi Arabia, a four year old had shot his father over not buying him a PlayStation 3. He used his father’s gun, and ended up shooting him dead. If a four year old can easily access a gun like that, it shows how careless some parents can be when it comes to weapons. The child may not have had a full grasp on what the weapon actually entailed, but he still ended up committing murder, although it was unintentional. This instance could have been avoided altogether.
Juveniles are also more likely to commit homicide if their parent is in prison for a similar crime. “William Bosket was born in Harlem, New York to a father who killed two people shortly after his son was conceived, and thereafter spent his life in prison. Bosket Junior was in trouble with the law growing up, and was a violent child that told juvenile officers he would end up a murder just like his father. He committed his first murder when he was 15-years-old, shooting and killing two men during separate robbery attempts. He also killed a transport worker before the police got to him. He was tried as a minor and was given 5 years in a youth facility – a sentence seen as extremely light.
The outcry against his sentence let to the Juvenile Offender Act of 1978, which ruled that children as young as 13 could be tried in New York’s adult courts for crimes as serious as murder, and receive the same penalties as adults. Upon release aged 20, Bosket continued his life of crime, leaving and re-entering jail until receiving a life sentence for assault and arson while in prison in 1989.” This is a prime example of following in their parent’s footsteps, and as a society need to do more to try and prevent it in the future.
Finally, young people that get out sooner are more likely to reoffend, more often then not prisoners become resentful, and end up trying to do it a second time-thinking they can get away with it. The reoffending rates for young criminals spike every year, and have been for the past 10 since 2007, “Reoffending rates among young criminals are at the highest level. Out of 42,000 juveniles offenders, 16,000 (or 35%) went back to crime in the next 12 months.”