America's Juvenile Justice Dilemma

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America's Juvenile Justice Dilemma by Brandon Lance Juvenile Crime has been on the rise for some time now, and the legislature has yet to find an effective way to deal with the issue. This has been a problematic issue for decades. Somebody must step forward to defend our society against the violence of uncivilized juveniles. I am not suggesting that the offenders be put to death, but an effective plan must be put into action to stop the growing number of violent acts committed by minors. The juvenile crime rate in 1996 was much higher than that of Canada's (National Center for Juvenile Justice). The United States must keep experimenting with programs that can truly reform children that commit violent crimes. We must take a long look at society today, identify the causes, and find ways to eliminate them in order to protect ourselves. One way that the United States has dealt with offenders is to threaten them with adult trials and the possibility of receiving the death penalty. While I strongly agree with the adult trials, I am opposed to the death penalty. I believe there are different programs that could be just as effective without the moral conflict. Sixteen states have enacted "blended sentencing" which allows the adult court to handle the case. The court can impose adult or juvenile sentences or both. Whether the case goes to criminal court is based on the age of the offender and the severity of the crime (Hurst 3). To me, this legislature has promise and can potentially reduce juvenile crime. In fact, 1996 was the second year in a row to show a decline in juvenile arrests for violent crimes( National Center for Juvenile Justice ). I believe that teens have learned from others who have been sentenced in adult court. Juveniles have been sent to death row and put in jail for life. Teens can see the horrors of jail life through inmates' interviews, and hopefully learn that if they commit a crime, the punishment will be harsh. It used to be that a juvenile could be punished for up to five years in prison, but those days are over. Right now, the death penalty can be imposed. Another option for teens is to go to rehabilitation centers, where they try to reform the offender. Many people think that this is a foolish waste of time and money, but I don't. Spending money on troubled teens is hardly a waste of money. If we are going to create a better society, it must start with the younger end of the spectrum. By counseling the teens, they can start to rebuild their lives and resume an active role in society. A poll was taken of fourteen juveniles on death row and the results were astounding. Each had brain abnormalities and had received a serious head trauma as a child. They also found that the inmates had low IQ's, low mental abilities, and psychiatric problems( Kahler 4). One was even found to be borderline retarded at the time of the murder. Most of these problems can be solved by counseling and without ending the juvenile's life, whether it be the death penalty or life in prison. We should look at what causes these problems. The blame for the murders cannot be put on our society, but we can't just sit and watch the problems grow. I believe society must take responsibility in finding remedies for the negative elements that effect today's youth, and I think counseling should remain a top option in sentencing Juveniles. Today nobody thinks of the teens' environment; they just want to get rid of the problem. These menial ideas have led to the United States being one of the few remaining countries to actively practice the execution of juveniles. Other countries that practice this include Libya, China, South Africa, Iraq, and Russia. These countries have been known to many Americans as hostile countries with low moral standards, yet we still execute children. What does that say about our moral standards? In 1990, there were thirty-two children waiting to die in US prisons (Kahler 1). On average, at least two countries per year, since 1976, have made it illegal to execute juveniles. Countries around the world believe that it is against the moral standards of society. I think we should follow the lead of the other countries and find alternative solutions. Ultimately, I believe the problem lies in how childr

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