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Youth Tried As Adults: Justice or Misguided Justification? When Juveniles are exposed to state penitentiaries and sentences up to life in prison without parole, do these adolescents learn anything or even achieve the ability to fully understand the crimes they have committed? The Massachusetts Institute of Technologys research indicates that the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that contributes to a person’s Judgment and reasoning, is not fully developed until a person reaches his or her twenties, closer to the age of twenty-five (Simpson).

With hat thought in mind, in relation to Juvenile and adult courts, should Juvenile courts allow cases for those up to the age of twenty-five? Well, not exactly. In todays modern society, the Justice system is based on the established mental maturity of adults aged eighteen and beyond. On the other hand, the Juvenile Justice system was created based on the premise that the emotional mental maturity of youths is much different from a fully-developed adult. The Juvenile Justice system is completely different compared to the adult Justice system.

Its goal is to offer a separate system by which ffenses committed by youths may be heard and addressed so that the sensitive needs of the youth may be taken into account, such as family, upbringing, and other situations. Regardless of the established logic behind the creation of the Juvenile justice system, there seems to be an increase of Juveniles transferring to adult courts and even getting tried and punished as adults. Juvenile offenses, although horrifying, must be viewed subjectively, with great attention placed on the emotional, intellectual and also social development of the specific offender and not Just on the eeds alone.

It is believed that adolescent youth aptitudes are completely unlike when compared to those of adults which is the reasoning behind separate Juvenile court systems, along with the idea that adolescents have a greater ability to change or learn (New York Times Editorial). One may be led to believe that the adolescent committing the crime knows what he or she is doing and understands what will come afterwards. Some may argue that this has nothing to do with the emotional or social maturity of the adolescent.

Despite that some crimes adolescents commit are ndoubtedly terrifying, the fact that adolescents are still maturing must be taken into consideration and also that they may not understand the consequences of the actions the adolescents have committed. In the article “Should Juvenile Offenders Be Tried As Adults,” Laurence Steinberg writes that because adolescents are still maturing, they are more likely to have a successful rehabilitation and states that “transferring Juveniles into a criminal Justice system that precludes a rehabilitative response may not be very sensible public policy’ (603).

With that in mind, the transfer of adolescents may make the issue even worse. The most controversial age range when considering the transfer of adolescents are the years between twelve and seventeen. During this time, the changes an adolescent incurs is both drastic and histrionic. The mind is most affected, where their intelligence, emotions, and moral reasoning and Judgment change and develop rapidly. Secondly, it is the most influential time in an adolescent’s life. Their family, friends, schoolmates, and especially the media influences their behavior and actions. Steinberg). Since the aspects and the consequences of the crime the adolescent committed. As stated in mfoung Voices From the Cell,” Nathaniel Brazill believed that his verdict was “[n]ot too bad” after being charged for second degree murder of his teacher. At that time, he did not comprehend the horrors that may await his sentence, which was a minimum of twenty-five years. This is Just one example of a phenomenon that occurs with adolescents in adult criminal Justice systems (Roche, Bower).

Psychology also plays a major role when considering whether adolescents should be placed in adult criminal justice courts. As stated earlier, the brain is not fully developed until the age of wenty-five with the Judgment and reasoning area of the brain developing last. If that is the case, then is it not a reasonable idea that those aged eighteen and older also be contained in the Juvenile Justice system? Studies show that only twenty percent of sixteen year olds reach stage five of Lawrence Kohlbergs Theory of Moral Development.

Stage five states that the adolescent generally sees values as best supported by adherence to the law and when placed in a situation where human need and the law is in conflict, that adolescent chooses the law (Papalia, Olds, Feldman). During the controversial ages of twelve through seventeen, the most important stage of reasoning regarding law is not met by most adolescents. On the other hand, placing adolescents in adult Jails is not an efficient way of teaching them what is right or wrong. Some may argue that adults who are released from prison are usually in better condition in regards to their criminal record.

They no longer commit serious crimes and spend time in rehabilitation centers. It works with adults because they can fully comprehend the consequences and sentences they receive and are emorseful when released on bail or parole. However, this is not the case with adolescents. In the article “Little Adult Criminals,” it is stated that “A civilized society must not give up hope or rehabilitating a child who commits a crime” along with research indicating that adolescents who go through the Juvenile system have a reduced chance of being arrested compared to adolescents who serve time in adult prisons (New York Times Editorial).

When an adolescent is convicted of a petty crime and goes through the Juvenile court system, the adolescent usually receives a arning of some sort or is removed from their family to some type of foster care (Collier). On the same note, some programs “scare” adolescents who have committed crimes of any sort, such as those represented on the television show “Beyond Scared Straight. ” The typical expected outcome from these programs involve the adolescent being “scared straight” into leaving his or her former lifestyle in order to pursue a crime-free lifestyle.

Adolescents that are transferred to an adult court and receive an adult sentence could undergo a lot of problems. For example, prison mates can Jump n them or treat them as a “girlfriend,” friends and family could disown them, and their victim’s families may seek revenge on the adolescent’s family. When released, the only lesson an adolescent might have learned was to not get caught, if they learned anything at all.

Consequently, adolescents may only fear for their lives and are only remorseful because they were caught and not because they truly hurt someone. In summary, as Steinberg wrote, “… ignoring the offender’s age… is like trying to ignore an elephant that has wandered into the courtroom” (604). As a rowing adolescent, emotional and social maturity are important and crucial roles in have the same maturity as an adolescent as the age of fifteen and that adolescent does not have the same maturity as an adult at the age of twenty.

With that in mind, an adolescent who is unaware of the consequences that will occur following a tragedy poses a major risk for themselves when living in a world of violence. Because of the idea that the role of the prefrontal cortex in the brain where moral Judgment and reasoning takes place is not fully developed until the age of twenty-five, age must e taken into consideration when punishing adolescents for crimes whether they are petty or serious.

It is a scientific fact that the teenage years is the time where and adolescent grows while enduring confusion and malleability. While there is the opinion of placing Juvenile offenders in adult criminal courts because they committed a crime such as murder of any degree with the expectation of serving time as if they were an adult, it is a valid opinion and should not be ignored. Also, adolescents who have a history of violent behavior and repeat offenses are not the same as young eens who have no concept of the seriousness of their actions and should be treated accordingly.

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