During the last decades, youth crime has increased in the United States becoming one of the key policy subjects. With its growth, the question about teenagers’ punishment is also on the summons date. In spite of the settlement agreement that children and grown-ups cannot have the same criminal liability, the United States allows youngsters to be tried and punished in the same manner as adults. These sanctions develop a negative attitude in many people about the justice system, but they do not reduce crime, in fact.
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The violent acts of young delinquents continue to appear in the titles of newspapers. For instance, in 2001, Lionel Tate, the 14 year old boy, was sentenced by Florida jury to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. He killed a little girl during a practice of fight moves on her. She was 12 years old. In general, five states permit to judge youngsters of any age for murder as grown-ups (Elrod and Ryder, 2011).
One may say that the end result of a terrible offense remains the same regardless of who performs it. However, are children able to understand the consequences of their deeds? It is clear that they lack so big moral or intellectual capacity for understanding of their actions in comparison with adlts. Similarly, they must not have the same responsibility. Thus,a fair punishment for grown-up is inequitable in relation to the teenager, who was unable to control behavior, or the child, who could not understand the cost of actions.
There are special courts for juvenile offenders that differ from the adult courts in the variety of procedures. Nevertheless, minors can be judged in the adult court in some serious cases. The juvenile court works under the assumption that criminals are immature in the three following meanings: their character is still developing; their decisions are less than mature; their development is incomplete. On the contrary, the adult tribunal affirms that offenders are ripe: not likely to change, responsible and competent.
According to the statistics, teenagers usually have a tough time in the adult jails being the victims of physical attack and even rape. The information on sexual violence in prisons is lacking, but the negative consequences such as suicide make one think. In addition, the placement of juvenile criminals in adult prisons increases their criminal traits after the release (Layzell, 2005).
At the same time, the system of juvenile prison like the rehabilitation center can help children change their lives and give a second chance. Many scholars argue that rehabilitation is more effective for the public in the long-term perspective than spending years of the young generation in the general prison. Youth coming out of juvenile facility is less predisposed to commit offense than those, who are released from adult prison.
The child’s behavior must be prevented by adults, especially their parents. First of all, youngsters must not be able to get a lethal weapon. The consultations of psychologists at schools or in private practice can also be useful for the creation of appropriate behavior and outlook in children, whose characters are still forming.
As a consequence, the U.S. juvenile justice system is one of the issues of concern in the present day. There is no doubt that the judiciary has to change its current conduct of cases involving young offenders. The system of criminal justice must be aware of the changes in society and predict in what way they can affect juveniles and their behavior. Young delinquents should be taught about the significance of maintaining the law. Besides, the rehabilitation centers can be a reasonable alternative instead of being in jail. Thus, adults and teenagers should not be treated in the same way.
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