13 April 2018
Why teens should be tried as adults
Today, the crime rates are higher than ever, and adults are not the only ones committing these crimes. One issue today is that juvenile offenses and whether the juvenile offenders should be tried as adults in criminal court. No matter how old you are, I feel that the punishment should fit the crime no matter the age. There are times when people get off too easily because they are underage. In those cases, the person doesn’t learn from their mistakes and there’s no justice for the people that might be affected by the person’s actions. Even though they are juvenile offenders they have committed adult actions and therefore should receive adult penalties. Teens are simply getting off too easy and not learning their lessons. Teens should be tried as adults when they commit adult crimes.
Teenagers should be punished for what the crime was not because of their age, and the severity should not change. The criminal knew exactly what they were doing, and everyone should be accountable for their actions, no matter what. Those who commit capital crimes, including adolescents, should be penalized according to the law. Age should not be a factor in the case of serious crimes. Teenagers already think they are adults and therefore should have the consequences of adults. Teens today don’t have a fear of the law because they either don’t think they will be caught, or they know there’s a good chance they will get off easy because they will be tried as a minor. The tougher we got on crime the more teens would be discouraged or even scared to commit crimes. Murderers, rapists, and other criminals are being released from jail every day after serving only very short sentences for serious crimes. They are receiving shorter and shorter sentences and then being released with new identities to continue to have a normal happy life, all while their victims are families and left to suffer forever.
Teenagers who commit crimes are still criminals that are living in our neighborhoods and freely walking our streets and possibly committing additional crimes. When most people see teens on the streets they think they are innocent because they are just teenagers, but that’s not always the case. There is no denying that crimes that are committed by minors are rising. “Statistics show that the number of juvenile arrests that were made in 2012 was over 1 million. As surprising as it is, that number is low compared to 37% less than the arrests recorded in 2003” (Horton). Based on the violent crime index, aggravated assault has the highest number of arrests, followed by robbery, forcible rape, and murder and non-negligent manslaughter. If these offenders will be tried as adults and punished to the full extent of the law, they would probably think twice about committing a crime or even violating the law. Like stated in an article, “we have to have a system where juveniles, even young juveniles, who commit very sophisticated murders are not beyond the reach of the law” (O’Keefe). We simply must keep others safe. In an interview with a family friend, a former officer, he stated that “It seems that most of the people I have arrested have been young adults, because they think they are invincible. These teens need to learn their lesson and the only way to do that is to show they we are not joking and they’re crimes are serious. We are not trying to ruin their lives but protect others.” (Zaggle)
We need justice for the people affected by these extreme crimes. Crimes committed by teens should be tried in the same regard not only to punish heinous acts but also for the sake of the families of the victims. While teens may still be kids, they have the ability to distinguish right from wrong especially in extreme circumstances like rape, murder, and assault. Even though the crime was committed by a minor the victim and the families still deserve a sense of justice if a loved one is affected or killed by a juvenile offender. Taking a life is murder regardless of the age of the offender. After all, the victim’s life will never be returned, and the family will permanently lose their loved one. It is only right that justice is served accordingly so that the victims and their families will also feel a sense of justice. A very well-known example of justice not being served was with a teenager, Ethan Couch. At the young age of sixteen, he drove under the influence of drugs and alcohol resulting in nine people being injured and four deaths. Since Ethan was a minor at the time he was only charged with a two-year sentence and is now released. Not only taking four innocent lives, but also a victim having to now live the rest of his life with paralysis. In an interview by The Washington Post, Lemus, the victim’s brother states that “My brother is doing more than probation” (Lemus) These peoples life have completely changed, and the cause of this crime is out free, living life like nothing happened because he was just a minor. Victims precisive the juvenile system as an injustice.
Many people claim that the child did not know any better, or that he was brought up with the conception that this behavior is acceptable. Morals are inherent from birth. Some say morals are learned, others say we inherit morals at birth, either way, a criminal is a criminal and must be punished as such. Like the Title of a book explains perfectly, "Old enough to do the crime, old enough to do the time (Mays).” Some people argue that teenagers don't know what they are doing when they commit a crime and are still too young to comprehend what is right and wrong. I totally disagree. All teens know that killing is wrong, yet they do it anyway and get away with a light sentence because of their age. Even if a teen didn't know it was wrong, it doesn't mean it's right. They should still be punished. If they aren't, they will think that crimes are okay and continue to commit them. Opposers will say that teens are young and don’t know what they’re doing. No matter how old you are, if you are above the age of a toddler, you know what you’re doing. At a very young age, you know what’s right and wrong, no matter how you were brought up. Little kids even know the idea of death at an early age, so they know what they are doing, killing someone. They say that teens make mistakes because their brains aren’t developed but adults make those same mistakes even with their brains being fully developed. Even though the brain isn’t at full development doesn’t mean it’s not functioning correctly. If they are smart enough to come up with the idea of doing something bad such as murder, then they should be tried as adults.
Like what a woman, from The University of St. Catherine, states in an article that, “Currently there are three states in which every juvenile over the age of fifteen is automatically transferred to adult criminal court (Gulstad).” If there are already states doing this, why can’t all states? I think we need to have laws set in action to prevent crimes and keep people safe. Every criminal should be tried and taken care of like one, even if they are teens.
Gulstad, Rebecca. “Juveniles in Adult Court Repercussions and Benefits for Juveniles and Communities.”
Horton, Alex. “Affluenza’ Drunk Driver Who Killed Four Now Free after Serving Two Years.” The Washington Post.
Khalid, Asma, and O’Keefe. “Should Young Murders Suspects Be Tried As Adults?”
Mays, G. Larry, and Rick Ruddell. Do the Crime, Do the Time Juvenile Criminals and Adult Justice in the American Court System. Praeger, 2012.
Queally, James. “Police Arrests Are Plummeting across California, Fueling Questions.” Los Angeles, 1 Apr. 2018.
Zaggle, John. Person Interview. 12 April 2018.