At the age of 17, Robert Acuna was convicted of killing two elderly neighbors, James Caroll and Joyce Caroll. The young teenager shot them “execution style” as prosecutors described it….
Should Teens Be Tried as Adults
As more minors are committing violent crimes, the question of whether they should be tried as adults is on the rise. Children as young as 13 or 14 are committing violent crimes such as murder, rape, and armed robbery. Some of these children are being tried as adults while others are being tried as juveniles and receiving milder punishments. A juvenile offender may receive a few years in a juvenile detention facility and possibly probation following his release at age eighteen.
An adult committing the same violent crime will receive a much harsher penalty, often years in jail, possibly a life sentence, with little or no chance of parole. The only difference between the two offenders is the age at which they committed the crime. Juveniles over the age of fourteen should be tried as adults when accused of violent crimes. Forty-one states currently have laws that make it easier to try a juvenile that has committed a violent crime and is over the age of 14 as an adult.
At age fourteen the average person is mentally mature enough to understand the consequences associated with committing a crime. A juvenile offender should be tried according to his crime. If they have committed a juvenile crime, then juvenile punishment is fitting. However, if they have committed an adult crime, or violent crime, a harsher punishment is needed. A teenager will not be taught anything or learn to take responsibility for their actions, if they are treated with special care and consideration when acting as an adult.
A fourteen year old has the mental capacity to determine right from wrong, even when it comes to committing violent crimes. In my opinion an adult crime deserves an adult punishment, even when the offender is a juvenile. The Juvenile system is very similar to New York’s Family Court. The New York Family Court was originally sought to protect children who were getting in trouble with the law that still considered them infants, because of their young age. A teenager that is a criminal would not be tried or treated as an adult because of the teenagers’ young age.
The present juvenile court system encourages the young delinquent to continue criminal behavior by showing them that they can get away with a crime. It was designed to function as helping parents of juveniles. By protecting those kids who were younger from the age of 18 juveniles always used the system as a game and said, “I ain’t sixteen yet,” and “they can’t do anything to me”. If the government protects them and the juveniles receive no punishment, it means the government is giving them a second chance to repeat crimes.
In the 1950’s juvenile delinquents who were caught doing something illegal were not treated like an adult, because the delinquent was “not criminally responsible… by reason of infancy. ” A hearing would be held in private to protect the child’s identity. In the 1960’s the juvenile court system changed and gave juveniles referred to as “respondents” instead criminals, the rights to have a lawyer represent them. On top of the juvenile court system changing it also gave protection, like the criminal court system gave adults who were responsible to serious penalties if guilty.
The current juvenile system has made it the defendant’s lawyer’s job to protect the young client from any possibility of rehabilitation. That means that the courts now are also protecting rights of juveniles, which makes it even more impossible for prosecutors to convict the defendant. This offers the child to get away with no punishment and now thinks that he/she have the right to keep on acting in a misbehaving or unlawful way which had brought him or her into juvenile court, knowing that there was no big consequence that would happen to them.
If there was any consequence it would be something small like being put in a facility that contains a TV, basketball courts, probably better food and medical service than what was provided at home. If the courts send juveniles to facilities like these, juveniles would keep doing crimes to stay in these facilities. If juveniles have a better life at the facilities than what they have at home, who wouldn’t want to go to these facilities. That is where the court is wrong because the court bases the judgment on the person’s age not on their crimes, and that does not help the juvenile to be disciplined.
In the early 70’s the majority of cases in family courts were misdemeanors by children. Through 1987-91 possession of a loaded gun by a juvenile was growing and schools started to install metal detectors in their school halls. Because juveniles have worsened in their act of crime rates have increased. The juvenile system defines juveniles as children rather than as criminals. Although Family Courts turn the most delinquent offenders over to the adult system for trial, they are sentenced as juveniles and only serve the maximum sentence in a juvenile detention and are free to go.
There was a sudden increase of twenty-six percent over the past twenty five years on violent crimes by juveniles in the years of 1989-1990. This was to show how many juveniles have been getting involved in crimes such as homicides, robbery, rape, and assault. On top of that eighty percent of constant juvenile offenders of five or more arrests are more likely to go on to adult criminal life styles because of the habits they contained throughout their life.
The only possible way to change the lives of juveniles is to make a legislation making the juvenile court hearings open to the public and the press, because juveniles should not be given the right to be protected by the government for destroying the lives of others. The government shouldn’t put teenagers in places like a juvenile center for committing a crime. It gives them way too much freedom. If any punishment is given is should be set up as first time offenders should do community service or do something good for the victims’ family.
For second time offenders they should be responsible for the victims family, and will be well trained under the supervision of a probation officer. For those who are required to live out of the home it will provide intense schoolwork and job relating skills. Upon also being arrested there should also be a court appearance immediately, and the offender should be sentenced and incarcerated. These trainings would help these juveniles get their life straight in order to live a justful life.
Teens today don’t fear the law because they don’t think they will get caught. And if they do, they know they have a good chance of getting off because they are tried as teens and not adults. We have to get tougher on crime. There should be a law that everyone over eleven years old will be tried as adults. That way more teens would be discouraged from committing crimes. They would know that murder would get them a very long sentence instead of staying in juvenile hall until they are eighteen. If we want to cut down on teen crime, we have to have tougher laws.