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!
My CaseShould juveniles (below the age of 18) be treated as adults in the criminal justice system in the United States?
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.