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Should Children Be Tried as Adults for Murder?

No crimes should go unpunished regardless of the age or intensity of the crime. Punishing of crimes sets an example to other citizens and helps those committing the crime reform, hence, minimizing the rate of crime in many countries. However, juvenile offences are given much consideration, as whether the accused is to be tried as a child or an adult. Some sates consider some cases not fit to be tried in the juvenile court depending on the intensity of the crime or other recorded offences. These cases are tried as adult offences despite the age of the offender. The Nevada statute does not consider a case of juvenile jurisdiction if it is a murder or attempted murder offence. Sexual assault or attempted sexual assault using violence but here, some factors are considered such as; if the offender was sixteen years of age or older at the time of the crime and if the offender had been considered delinquent on a previous crime. However, I do not agree with the Nevada law that children should be tried as adults for murder.

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Murder is a serious criminal offence and should not be taken lightly regardless of the age of the person committing it. The accused should be tried and appropriate punishment should be rendered to him/her. The grounds under which the act of murder is committed are different and children are not to be placed in the same category as that of adults. The thinking capacity of an adult and that of a child are very different and it goes for the level of maturity as well (Reaves 5). When an adult is committing murder, he/she is well aware of the consequences of the action and the reasons behind the irrational decision. An adult is capable of making decisions and taking full responsibility of them whereas a child, who is used to an adult making all the serious decisions for him, makes a rushed decision, which is a mistake and before they know it, their whole life has changed. They find themselves facing serious murder charges in areas where they thought their actions will not have serious repercussions other than just inflict pain on the person the action is intended to hurt. An adult on the other hand is mature enough to know that by committing murder he could be facing the rest of his life in prison but still goes ahead with the action because he is prepared for the outcome. This does not mean they should be tried the same way an adult is but under juvenile jurisdiction.

Most children committing these acts of murder come from a disturbed childhood and react this way maybe due to frustration or anger. The Nevada law does not specify the age bracket that is affected by the murder law so this could only mean that it applies to children of all ages. This is not fair because children who commit these offences they are not aware of the harm they will be causing to many people but especially to themselves (C. Bartol and A. Bartol 25). Disturbed backgrounds may include; abuse from family where the child is the victim and he/she cannot be able to express themselves in their home due to fear. Some of these children may tend to think that putting an end to his oppressor’s life is the end of his problems because he thinks he is justified to do so (Collins par.8). Growing up in a violence-dominated household could be another reason why a child may commit a serious offence as murder. It might not be directly to the family but on a person who is not related in anyway to the child. The child sees no wrong in this until the crime is actually committed because he grew up surrounded by violence. This is why I think that treating a child, as an adult is not right especially based on the Nevada law, since most children do not mean to commit the crime but lack necessary knowledge before actually committing or attempting to commit the crime.

Trying teenagers as adults is a likely to be a failure than success. When a child takes the life of another person knowingly or under the influence of drugs, they are aware that they have committed a crime and should be punished but trying them as adults will not help rehabilitate them. The juvenile jurisdiction can be able to render severe punishment to a child who has killed someone or attempted to kill. It does not mean that they are given an insignificant punishment but being locked away for sometime will give them time to think and might even reform. A child has a big future ahead of them and a mistake they made in life should not be able to take away their second chance in the world as a reformed person (Pytel par.5). Being tried as an adult may even mean that they will have to spend their whole life in prison therefore, killing all hope they had for a second chance to prove that they have changed. An adult on the other hand knows that he has a lot to risk by engaging himself in murder crimes, he is well aware that he will have to spend the rest of his life in jail. When a child is convicted of attempted murder and tried as an adult, he might turn out to be a very bitter person after he is due serving his time and may retaliate by committing more offensive crimes. Trying children as adults does not warn other children since they are not mature enough to understand the serious nature of the offence.

Sentencing a child to life or to serve time in an adult correctional facility will be destroying the life of that child other than repairing it. Once a child is placed in such a facility, he is likely to experience molestation and a lot of harassment from the older inmates. This may affect the child psychologically leaving him mentally disturbed or makes him grow hostile and violent when he leaves the facility. Another negative influence would be that these children will emerge stronger or even better criminals than they were before because they are bound to acquire some survival skills from older inmates (Kellerman par.7). These facilities are not the appropriate places for children since there is always the risk of suicide. Thus, I believe that sending a child to a rehabilitation facility might actually do more good than harm than when sent to an adult correctional facility.

Some of the murders committed by children are not intentional hence, should not receive same punishment as that of an adult. For an adult to commit murder, he has to plan everything strategically something that a child is incapable of (Schwartz par.12). Some of these children are just looking for a means of survival by carrying out minor crimes and when confronted might end up killing the person in order to protect themselves. These children have probably spent most of their lives in the streets or ghettos without any protection or love from families and feel they have to do everything possible to protect them. In the streets, there are gangs that these children involve themselves with and they are forced to carry out the killings despite the fact that they do not want to do it. These children do not think they are doing a serious criminal offence but rather what they have to do to survive. Therefore enrolling them in rehabilitation programs is better than trying them as mature adults for crimes they do not hold themselves fully responsible for.

In conclusion, children do not have the same capacity as adults do to make rational decisions when faced with a difficult situation. If a particular person does not make them feel happy at home, they might tend to think that the best way to solve the case is to eliminate them. Children also crave for attention from their parents and when they feel like they are not getting the attention they deserve, they tend to seek it by doing negative actions. Trying a child as an adult is destroying his/her future, whereas they have a chance to reform in rehabilitation centers in the state. Therefore the Nevada law should not try children as adults if they are not above eighteen years old where they know exactly what they are doing and understand the consequences for their actions.

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Works Cited

Bartol, Curt and Anne Bartol. Juvenile Delinquency And Antisocial Behavior: A Developmental Perspective. United Kingdom: Prentice Hall. 2008.

Collins, Bob. Should More Juveniles be Charged as Adults? News Cut. 2008. Web.

Kellerman, Christopher. Children Behind Bars. 1 December 1998. Web.

Pytel, Barbara. Teens Tried As Adults a Failure: Experts State Teens More Violent When Placed in Adult Prisons. Suite 101. 2008. Web.

Reaves, Jessica. Should The Law Treat Kids and Adults Differently? Time. 2001.

Schwartz, Robert. Kids Should Never Be Tried As Adults. CNN. 2010. Web.

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