According to the article “Many Kids Called Unfit for Adult Trial,” 200,000 juveniles a year are being tried as adults in the United States. They are sentenced to life in prison and even the death penalty. But is that what is really best for them? Putting these teenagers in prison for life gives them no chance to change their lives around and learn from what they’ve done. I strongly believe that adolescents should not be sentences as adults but still deserve a huge punishment. Teenagers should not be tried as adults because teenager’s brains are not fully developed as adult brains are.
In his article “Startling Finds on Teenage Brains,” Paul Thompson states, “The biggest surprise in recent teen-brain research is the finding that a massive loss of brain tissue occurs in the teen years. ” How are these teens supposed to understand what they are doing if they are not fully mature and aren’t mentally stable? Thompson also says that, “Brain cells and connections are only being lost in the areas controlling impulses, risk-taking, and self-control. ” These children are not aware of how serious their actions are and therefore, should be helped immediately.
These kids who are being tries as adults are not mentally capable of defending themselves. According to Laurence Steinberg, a Temple University psychology professor, “It is a violation of constitutional right to be a defendant in a criminal proceeding when you are not competent to defend yourself. ” These juveniles being tried as adults do not understand the proceedings. They don’t recognize the risks in different choices and are less likely to think about long term consequences. For example, Robert Acuna, a high school student from Baytown, Texas, was given the death sentence for killing two elderly neighbors.
In the article “Supreme Court to Rule on Executing Young Killer,” Ms. Magee said, “He was very nonchalant. He laughed at inappropriate things. He still didn’t quite get the magnitude of everything he did. ” There are many other teens like Robert who don’t think before their actions. Acuna may have killed his two elderly neighbors and stolen their car, but his punishment should not have been death. I don’t think that anyone should have the power to decide who should live or die, not matter what they have done. The judge who decides this and the executor who killed these kids should not be alive anymore than Robert Acuna is.
Taking these kids’ lives away or putting them in prison for life gives them no chance to change their lives around. I highly doubt that they will learn a lesson in prison. Even though I don’t think kids should be tries as adults, they still need some sort of punishment. As Paul Thompson said, “While research on brain tissue loss can help us to understand teens better, it cannot be used to excuse their violent or homicidal behavior. But it can be used as evidence that teenagers are not yet adults and the legal system shouldn’t treat them as such. They could stay in jail with other teens but not for life. I also think that they need help from a therapist or psychiatrist. They are seriously impaired and need help to steer their lives in the right direction. Prison is a negative environment and will only make them worse and lead to more problems such as fights and violence. These juveniles are kids! They don’t have the same rights as adults. They aren’t allowed to drink, smoke, vote, get married, etc. They are not ready to take care of themselves or live on their own. In the article “Kids are Kids-Until They Commit Crimes,” a Democratic State Rep.
Ron Wilson of Houston said, “You want to throw the adult book at kids? Fine! Lower the voting age to fourteen. ” I agree with Wilson. Kids aren’t allowed to vote because they aren’t mature and for the same reason, they should not be tried as adults. Even though these kids have made huge mistakes, I think they deserve a second chance in life. They shouldn’t be tried as adults nor be sentenced to die. This doesn’t mean that they get away with the crimes they’ve committed, it just means they won’t be in prison their whole life for a crime they committed when they were kids.
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