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Thread: Juveniles Being Tried as Adults

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    Juveniles Being Tried as Adults

    In my debate class, I am currently against (negative) on the following topic. I would love to have a public debate about this topic to fuel ideas and just dig deeper in this topic. Please voice your opinions, since I want to hear both the affirmative and negative of this topic. I will post my case below the topic. Feel free to critique it also!
    Should juveniles (below the age of 18) be treated as adults in the criminal justice system in the United States?
    My Case

    Nearly 25,000 juvenile cases were turned away from the juvenile courts, and into the adult justice system. This means that about 25,000 children were put up to be admitted into adult sentences. If one of these children is convicted and incarcerated in these circumstances, they will be ripped away from their family and be living with criminals for many years. Because of this reason, I am against the topic.

    Children should have the same rights as adults if they are to be treated as adults when they do something wrong. Our country was founded on being represented, and that did not stop at no taxation without representation. Children cannot vote, hold public office, serve on juries, serve in the military, or sign contracts until they turn the age of eighteen. If minors cannot have a say in anything, how can they be treated in the higher court systems. If we are to treat children as adults when they have done something bad, we must treat the same way as if they haven’t done anything at all.

    From television, to video games, to friends, pressure is all around children and they don’t even know it. According to the United States, children cannot make good judgments until they are eighteen years old, this leaves everyone under the age of eighteen susceptible to bad judgments, and media only fuels that bad judgment. In 1956, researchers had a study where 24 children were split into two rooms, one half watching a violent cartoon (Woody Woodpecker), the other watching a non-violent cartoon (Red Hen). The researchers concluded the children watching the more violent cartoon were much more apt to hit the other children in the room and break objects in the room. There have also been many, many news stories about children trying to duplicate things they see in bad video games and television, in real life. This is not because the children want to be harmful, but because they are driven to achieve the amusement level as high as they did in the game.

    There will be no chance of rehabilitation if a child is put in an adult prison. I am going to offer some statistics of children’s behavior in adult prisons:
    • A study by Michael G. Flaherty, a researcher with the Community Research Forum at the University of Illinois, found that the suicide rate in adult prisons, for children, rather than juvenile detention centers was nearly eight percent higher.
    • Another study held by a team of researchers found out that it is five times more likely that a child will be raped in an adult prison, rather than a juvenile detention center. Nearly ten percent of the youth interviewed in this study said they had been sexually assaulted in some way. Jeffrey Fagan of Columbia University's School of Public Health said, “Because they are physically diminutive, they [juveniles] are subject to attack.... They will become somebody's 'girlfriend' very, very fast.” A corrections officer said, in an expose on prisons published in The New Republic, “that a child’s chance in not getting raped in an adult prison is almost zero… He’ll get raped in the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours. That’s almost standard.”
    • Another study held by a team of researchers found out that one in ten youth in an adult prison were victim to beatings by staff. Over fifty percent of these beatings were with a deadly weapon.

    Now, with the facts presented to you, do you think, if these conditions were the same in school, you would be able to learn? If you say no to this question, then how do you think children will be able to rehabilitate in these conditions? We are all human; we can’t work under ridiculously horrible conditions.

    In conclusion, I have shown that children should not be treated as adults in that they are to be easily abused in adult penitentiaries, they do not offer good judgment, and they do not have the same liberties as people over the age of eighteen do.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    That is my case. Also, just to let you know, I am really for this topic; however, someone had to be against it, so I was chosen for it. Tell me if I convinced you, and if I didn't tell me. I would also love to hear your own cases against or for this topic.

    Thank you,

    Chase

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    The Cake is a lie... Chaossaber314's Avatar
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    As per usual, I support a somewhat blanket reform of our lower judiciary with an emphasis on oversight panels in order to keep them accountable for their rulings. Similarly, I think that the discretion to try a child as an adult should exist for some of the more serious crimes.

    While a child may not be totally mature before 18, many studies show that most individuals don't even reach maturity until around 24-25. So if we relied completely on the age of average maturity and stated that no person lacking in maturity could be tried as an adult, there would be even fewer people being sent to prison hiding behind this.

    The fact is that at some point in your life you have to be accountable for your actions and you should know better. If a 15 year old robs a liquor store and shoots a security guard of a strip mall parking lot on the way out, I say send him to prison with the other monsters. Hell, in St. Louis, we just had an incident regarding a minor 14 or 15 who murdered a cop in cold blood. Then we have a month of editorials about how this is a tragedy for the child. To hell with the child who knowingly and illegally obtained a firearm and used it to snuff out the life of another human being who was doing nothing wrong. What about the cop's family? Is it not a tragedy for his kids? At what point did our society become so ingrained in this idea of "blaming the victim"?

    You know what? There are some criminals who are just as tiny, just as weak if not more so than your average 17-18 year old. They aren't exempt from prison because of some misplaced internal view of an elementary schooler being put into a cell with gang bangers.

    Prison life is terrible, but it takes a great deal to be put there as a minor.

    All you have to do is NOT be a douche bag.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    I didn't really consider your argument very convincing but when it comes to Criminal Justice stuff (or just about anything else), I'm very opinionated.
    What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?

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    I think that there is nothing wrong with trying children as adults. How do we decide what "adulthood" is? I wouldn't say age, I would say a level of maturity.

    And so as long as it is carefully decided that the juvenile knows what crime they commited and why it was wrong there is nothing wrong with trying them as an adult, particularly if they show no remorse.

    The only thing I would say is that they should be segregated from the other criminals in prison. I would not send a sixteen or seventeen year old into prison life with much more dangerous criminals.

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    Thanks for the input guys.

    Chaos, your opinion and mine are the exact same in the real world, but I have to be against it for now, do you have any ideas or tips for reasons one could be against this topic?

    My solution, however, to this case is that I think children that commit criminal acts worthy of an adult court, they should be sent and tried to an adult court, but if they are found guilty they stay in the juvenile detention center until they turn eighteen when they will be transfered to a higher security prison.
    "A witty saying proves nothing."
    Voltaire

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    The Cake is a lie... Chaossaber314's Avatar
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    Quote Quote by: Chase View Post
    Thanks for the input guys.

    Chaos, your opinion and mine are the exact same in the real world, but I have to be against it for now, do you have any ideas or tips for reasons one could be against this topic?

    My solution, however, to this case is that I think children that commit criminal acts worthy of an adult court, they should be sent and tried to an adult court, but if they are found guilty they stay in the juvenile detention center until they turn eighteen when they will be transfered to a higher security prison.
    The problem with that is that then they are kept alongside the other juveniles who are in there for lesser crimes... ie vandalism, fighting (thank you zero tolerance), drug possession, minor in possession of alcohol, and my favorite "Behavior injurious to a minor".

    Which is left vague enough that they can arrest children for as little as walking in the street. Since that could potentially cause severe injury to the minor even if it's to the individual themselves. It's essentially a loophole to arrest children without a real reason other than to get them off the street. Particularly if they start getting an attitude.

    Point is, do we really want these kids who have done something wrong, but are legitimately juvenile offenders and not adult offenders to be housed with the same offenders who have done things worthy of adult imprisonment.

    Furthermore, the adult crimes would be inherently longer so these hardened offenders would be around longer to have a much greater affect on our lesser offenders who are in and out. Never mind the whole safety aspect of it.

    --------------------
    The only argument I can see against it is merely the same arguments going toward any person entering the correctional system. Over-representation of minorities, overpopulation for lesser offenses etc.

    Perhaps an argument on the legal parental responsibility for their children? Something about how parents are more and more being held responsible for say... if their children have a party with alcohol involved and the police show up, the parents are fined heavily and in a few cases even arrested? ...regardless of whether or not they were at home at the time.
    What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?

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    Quote Quote by: Chaossaber314 View Post
    The problem with that is that then they are kept alongside the other juveniles who are in there for lesser crimes... ie vandalism, fighting (thank you zero tolerance), drug possession, minor in possession of alcohol, and my favorite "Behavior injurious to a minor".

    Which is left vague enough that they can arrest children for as little as walking in the street. Since that could potentially cause severe injury to the minor even if it's to the individual themselves. It's essentially a loophole to arrest children without a real reason other than to get them off the street. Particularly if they start getting an attitude.

    Point is, do we really want these kids who have done something wrong, but are legitimately juvenile offenders and not adult offenders to be housed with the same offenders who have done things worthy of adult imprisonment.

    Furthermore, the adult crimes would be inherently longer so these hardened offenders would be around longer to have a much greater affect on our lesser offenders who are in and out. Never mind the whole safety aspect of it.

    --------------------
    The only argument I can see against it is merely the same arguments going toward any person entering the correctional system. Over-representation of minorities, overpopulation for lesser offenses etc.

    Perhaps an argument on the legal parental responsibility for their children? Something about how parents are more and more being held responsible for say... if their children have a party with alcohol involved and the police show up, the parents are fined heavily and in a few cases even arrested? ...regardless of whether or not they were at home at the time.
    I was deliberating whether adding parental responsibilities in there, but I guess my own personal beliefs have taken over... I will try to get over my feelings though and attack this topic to my best. More replies would be great.
    "A witty saying proves nothing."
    Voltaire

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