More than twenty years ago, youth violence reached an all-time high and America lost faith in its youth. Legislators across the United States responded to the crime spike by lowering the minimum age to be tried as an adult. Rehabilitation in juvenile facilities was no longer a valid option for violent offenders. Locking up these vicious criminals was the only reasonable alternative. However, harsher laws do not lower the crime rate, sending these children to prison does nothing to benefit society. It merely teaches youths to become better criminals and takes millions of dollars out of the taxpayers’ pockets.
Juveniles should not be forced to face the harsh reality of adult criminal court and prison, but should be tried and sentenced as juveniles. Juveniles do not have the reasoning ability that adults do. Their brain is immature. The brain contains about one-hundred million neurons. Neurons do not touch, but transfer information through electrical charges within the brain by chemicals called neurotransmitters. Between each neuron is a small space called a synapse. By the age of two a single neuron may have ten thousand synapses connecting to other neurons.
As an individual ages, the brain eliminates unused and unnecessary synapses through a process called synaptic pruning. As this process occurs, the brain changes. At any given age the greatest developmental change takes place in the same region of the brain as the one being trimmed (Steinberg).
I feel that one of the biggest problems that the United States is faced with in the present day is juvenile crime. Juvenile crime does not only affect the individuals who commit the crime, it also affects the victim of the crime. This also affects the juvenile in their adult lives as the crime can be on their record as long as they live. Experts still have not found the main reason why juveniles ...
In adolescence the frontal cortex is being trimmed. This is the area of the brain associated with reasoning, planning, and judgment (Ruder).
Unlike adults, adolescents focus on the immediate rewards a situation brings (Brown).
In teens, dopamine levels are higher than at any other stage in life. This, as well as an undeveloped frontal cortex, cause the inherent search for thrill and disregard of consequence. The search for pleasurable experiences lessen a teen’s ability to control impulses making them prone to engage in immature and emotional acts and delinquent behavior. In Pennsylvania an eleven year-old boy, Jordan Brown, shot and killed his father’s pregnant fiancee. He was charged and prosecuted as an adult (Schwartz).
This young boy did not have the mental capacity to understand trial proceedings.
His eleven year-old brain is not able to advise his lawyers on points to bring up during questioning or fully understand the effects to pleading guilty or not guilty. Had he been placed in the hands of the juvenile justice system, however, Jordan could have been kept until his twenty-first birthday. The ten years he would have spent being rehabilitated is enough to ensure public safety upon his release. During those ten years Jordan could have been taught better and still have been able to grow up in a situation conducive to his development as a person.
Even an older child perhaps in their early to mid-teens still has a developing brain. Juwan Wickware a six-teen year old in Flint, Michigan was involved in a gang shooting in 2012. He was brought up in a poor area, had an IQ of 71, and had dropped out of school at fifteen. A pizza delivery driver was shot and killed by Wickware and several others. Michigan state representative Joseph Havemen said regarding the case, “Some people—let me emphasize—some people need a second chance. ” (Ridley.
Juwan was convicted of felony murder and sentenced to life without parole despite the recent Supreme Court decision that life without parole is an unjust punishment for minors. Despite research demonstrating the cognitive differences between youths and adults, harsher laws remain in place. In the last ten years, teen crime rates dropped around fifty-four percent nation-wide (Brown. ) The juvenile laws in place now in many states reflect the crime levels of twenty or thirty years ago, and do not pertain to the frequency and severity of current youth crimes.
Physical fitness for youth and adults According to A Comprehensive Lifestyle Approach: physical fitness is the body's ability to function efficiently and effectively. It consists of health-related physical fitness and skill-related physical fitness, which have at least eleven different components, each of which contributes to total quality of life. Physical fitness also includes metabolic fitness. ...
The majority of violent youths do not grow into violent adults. As they mature, the inability to control or respond appropriately to violent impulses diminishes and eventually they are able to function normally; making sentences to juvenile facilities profoundly beneficial to the convicted individual. Those who are not set to a juvenile facility; however, are unable to go through this process of maturation and possess higher recidivism rates. An Arkansas study found that of youths who had been imprisoned, sixty percent returned to jail within three years.
Another study found that ninety-one percent were rearrested within five years of their release (Justice).
States spend approximately five and a half billion dollars yearly imprisoning youth. And thirty-six percent of facilities are overcrowded. The facilities facing overcrowding must use is temporary beds and housing for additional youth. These less than ideal conditions can lead to court ordered reform and cost the state several million dollars. The most effective alternative both cost wise and beneficial to today’s youth are community-based programs.
In these programs youths are able to go through therapy, both individual and group, and prove to have less negative effects on the youth than those incarcerated. Some believe that juveniles at any age must be tried as an adult in the case of violent crime. Juveniles have the responsibility of going to school and being well disciplined and respectful of their peers and teachers. They are also trusted to make good decision in the workplace and on the road, unhindered by emotional distractions. Essentially, they are sound minded enough to know what they’re doing.
There is also the question of what makes an eighteen year-old an adult. Supposedly, even those close in age to eighteen have the same responsibilities and mental capacity as someone already at that age. However, a juvenile does not become an adult until their eighteenth birthday. Up until that point, a juvenile still has responsibilities and aspires to reach certain expectations, but does not have the same responsibilities as someone already on their own. Despite the fact that juveniles are allowed to possess a drivers license, teen drivers are the most prone to accidents.
Crime has been around since the beginning of time. It started with Adam and Eve who ate the apple after God told them they were to stay away from the tree. Nothing has changed since then except that crimes have become more severe and sadly, children have started doing some of that crime. Like adults, when juveniles commit a crime and are caught, there must be punishment for it. Depending on the ...
The most likely group of drivers to make poor decisions. In a real life setting the juvenile’s still developing brain does not have time to make smart, rational decisions. A juvenile does not have the same mental capability or social responsibilities as an adult and should not be upheld to the same standards of law. Sentencing juveniles to adult correctional facilities and prosecuting them with an adult charge hanging over their heads does not lower crime rates. Those who are incarcerated are ninety-one more likely to return to prion after their release (Justice.
The daunting consequences of being a convicted felon don’t cross through a juvenile’s mind as he makes a decision. In fact, this decision is often made emotionally or with outside influences determining the outcome. The most effective way to respond to juvenile violent crime is to allow the offenders to stay in juvenile facilities where they can be kept until their twenty-first birthday. During the time spent in a juvenile facility they would be able to grow out of violent behaviors and develop positively both mentally and as an individual.