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Juvenile Crime Essay, Research Paper
Should Juveniles be Tried as Adults?
Violent crimes are committed in the United States
everyday. Almost one-half of them are committed by
teenagers ages 13 through 17 (”End of Line” 484). After the
crimes have been committed and the lives of these children
have been radically changed, society often demands that
those who commit violent crimes be tried as adults, rather
than as adolescents.
Juveniles should be given light sentences and a second
chance to return to the streets. Trying these teens as
adults unjust and unfair, there other alternatives that our
society can turn to, to help make our communities better
places to live. We need to realize that children are our
future, and we throwing their future away. We also need to
ask ourselves if we should possibly be punishing these kids
for not having stability in our homes, which is not their
Growing up in America today can be a very traumatic
experience facing many pressures and trials. The youngest
generation looks up to the teenagers for guidance but what
kind of example are today’s teenagers many concerned parents
ask. There could be a much better example if the justice
system did not let them get away with so many violent
crimes. When a juvenile commits a crime he has a trial in a
juvenile court. The basic idea behind the juvenile court is
guardianship, the states acting for the welfare of children.
“The jurisdiction and procedure of the juvenile court have
been primarily chancery or equity rather than criminal
In a May 1987 issue of Business Week followed up on a
case when a 16 year old boy brutally raped and murdered a
26 year old woman in front of her two children ages four and
six. After the woman was dead the young man proceeded to
shoot the children. The children were not killed, but now
live with the horrifying memory of their mothers brutal
death. To make this story even more heart-crushing this
young man was merely slapped on the hand with a sentence of
two years in physciatric juvenile detention facility. If
tried as an adult, this young man would have received 20 to
35 years maximum sentence in a state penitentiary without
bail. Maybe this sixteen year old should have gotten more
than two years but he came out a man from the detention
facility (Wadsworth 11). He matured and learned to be
himself, not wht other people wanted him to be.
Rehabilitation programs are one alternative that has
proven successful and helpful (Age 61). An example of a
success story was Trina Leas of Peoria, Illinois. Trina was
only 13 years old when she brutally shot and killed her
classmate in the middle of class. Trina subsequently
attended a local camp for troubled youth called “Peoria’s
Camp Neighborhood” and was totally changed. Now Trina lives
a life free of crime and works in Peoria to help counsel
youth (Age 64). Another success story from Wichita, Kansas
concerns an eleven-year-old boy named Iman Reed. Young Iman
had been hanging out on the streets and was a prime target
for a revenge shooting. Out of fear for her son’s life,
Iman’s mother enrolled him in the “Big Brother Program.”
This program paired Iman with a big brother, and now five
years later, he has all A’s and B’s and has his sights set
on a law degree. Iman is no longer involved with any street
activities and encourages others to stay away. When asked
about the program, Iman said, “If it was not for the
program, I would still be in one of those gangs, or dead
Juveniles should not be tried as adults because serving
time in jail will more likely lead to greater conflicts. An
example of this was “Sneakers,” a Milwaukee gang member.
Sneakers was seventeen years old and had been tried as an
adult on two counts of larceny; each jail sentence was nine
months in a security prison. Each time Sneakers got out of
jail he returned to the streets, and was still involved in
crime and gangs (Roberta). All that time in jail only
helped him to master more criminal techniques. Sneakers had
fourteen years before he was considered for parole. If
Sneakers had been tried as a juvenile he would have received
a light sentence and counseling of some kind to help him get
off the streets.
In other cases there are Prevention Programs which
indicate that recreation and training programs can
contribute directly to reduce the number juvenile arrests.
For example, the Dallas police recorded a twenty-six percent
drop in juvenile arrests after prevention programs (Cunliffe
B3). These programs are not punishment, but prevention that
were implemented to put a dent in crime. Kids experience
activities that reward them emotionally and instill hope in
All over the world America stands for a place of freedom, a
place of peace. No longer will America stand for this if we
do not lay down stricter guidelines for todays juvenile
offenders. America needs to be firm with these young
offenders, not because of their age but for the extent of
the crime committed. The future must also be protected, not
put in jail. The problem can no longer be ignored; it must
be helped. Rehabilitation has proven to be successful, and
until these crimes can be completely prevented,
rehabilitation is a successful solution rather than locking
kids away. Now more than ever juveniles should remain
juveniles in the eyes of the law; they should be helped and
encouraged, not destroyed.
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