We only live once, and how we choose to live is at our discretion. It is unfortunate that people, at a very young age, break bad and decide to lead a life of misdeeds. Unfortunately for them, every action has a consequence and soon, their actions catches up with them. Every so often, a young person, whose actions conflicts the law face the Juvenile Justice Department. The Juvenile Justice Department is mandated to try and sentence errant minors under the Criminal Juvenile Act (Betts). The Juvenile Justice Department differs from the Justice Department that handles adult offenders. However, there are cases where juvenile offenders find themselves tried in adult courts and placed under sentences in state penitentiaries. This paper evaluates the impact of youth criminals being tried and sentenced as adult offenders.
Incarceration is mainly meant for correction and rehabilitation of the offenders. Juvenile sentencing is based on the nature and frequency of the crime committed. Such sentences may involve a minimum of 5 years or in the cases of homicides; execution or life incarceration without the possibility of parole (Goffman). The question from the critics of juvenile incarcerations is mainly on the effectiveness of these sentences. Do juvenile offenders have the capacity to understand the impact of their crimes? Should there be a particular age limit where a minor, no matter the nature of their crime, be protected from the adults justice system?
Crime has skyrocketed in the recent past, especially amongst the youth, between the ages of 15 to 20 years. These young people are sent to prison in every state in this county. Goffman says There are more and more kids on this journey to adulthood than ever before in the United States, and that's because, in the past 40 years, our incarceration rate has grown by 700 percent (Goffman). Most of these young people are from impoverished backgrounds or broken homes. Most of them are under the influence of drugs and other substances and can benefit from the juvenile justice system, who can help them transition to responsible adults. Goffman notes that What's more, it's poor kids that we're sending to prison, too many drawn from African-American and Latino communities so that prison now stands firmly between the young people trying to make it and the fulfillment of the American Dream (Goffman). After committing these crimes, all these young men and women are never given time a chance to turn their life around. The possibility of a young man changing their ways is always higher than an adult offender.
Psychologically, the young have immature judgment and decision-making capacity as compared to adults. They are not mentally developed and stable of their actions enough to weigh the value and consequences of the majority of their activities as compared to adults who have a full understanding of their actions (Goffman). These young people are incarcerated in the same prisons as adult offenders, the majority of whom have committed the crime of bigger magnitude. They are thus exposed to the harsh cruelty of jail (Betts). Most of them get beaten and raped hurting them physically and emotionally. The final state of these people is worse than before. It thus negates the very purpose of rehabilitation.
Human beings are born with a certain level or form of malice and deviousness. However, each is influenced and adapts to the nature of the upbringing there are exposed to. Rehabilitation and Correction are a right of everyone. Young people have the capacity to change and take to any lifestyle depending on the influence they have. The criminal justice should exploit the innocence of the juvenile offenders mind and lead them to a path of correction and not punishment.
Betts, Dwayne. The Stoop Isnt the Jungle. Slate. The Slate Group, LLC, 10 Jul. 2014. Web. 19 Jan. 2016.
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2014/07/alice_goffman_s_on_the_run_she_is_wrong_about_black_urban_life.htmlGoffman, Alice. How were Priming Some Kids for College and Others for Prison. Ted 2015. Ted.com. Ted Conferences, LLC, Mar. 2015. Web. 19 Jan. 2016.
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