There has been a major controversy over whether juvenile offenders should be tried as adults or not. A juvenile offender is a wrongdoer who is too immature to be tried as a grownup. The required age at which an individual can be tried as a grownup differs amongst states but is oftentimes eighteen. However, the court system has a way of determining whether or not juvenile offenders should be tried as adults. The waiver is a term used to describe the process of determining the seriousness of a juvenile offense (Allen). It is when a judge waives the requirement for leniency that a juvenile court provides. Usually, a juvenile case that receives a waiver involves a more serious crime such as murder or rape and this would call for a juvenile offender to be charged as an adult. Just like any other criminal trial, the state will then be expected to prove its accusations beyond a shadow of a doubt (Michon).
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Murder is a serious crime, no matter what the age of a person is. There is never a legitimate reason for taking another person’s life. The hypotheses and speculations concerning why a juvenile offender commits murder are similar to those of an adult. Therefore, like some adults, juveniles kill because they are belligerent and emotionally unmoved (Bender and Leone 78). An example is that of Lionel Tate who was aggressively wrestled with a five-year-old girl, which resulted in her death. During the trial, some people believed that he showed no emotions or remorse about her death. From a psychologist’s point of view, people often tend to keep their emotions hidden because they have trouble expressing them, and this may cause longstanding resentments (Allen 15). Other juvenile offenders commit murder as a result of undergoing trauma and are thus not able to stand their being. Even though murder can be linked to psychological issues or tragedies which juvenile offenders have experienced, they are not valid reasons for one to commit murder. Charging juvenile offenders as adults sends a message to other would-be juvenile offenders. The justice system should not tolerate murder from any juvenile persons as they are well aware of their actions when committing a crime (Michon).
Rape is another serious offense that mainly affects the victim’s physical and mental health. The victim normally endures acute emotional reactions directly following a rape. This can be explained as a physical crisis where the assaulted individual allays the concern, torment or anxiousness, combined with emotional apathy (Rautio). Most juvenile persons conceive that aggressiveness is a useful way of solving social issues and struggles met in life. Juvenile offenders that commit violent crimes often do it to feel a sense of control. When a person is raped, it usually takes away their freedom. Oftentimes, the victims try to suppress their memory so as to forget about the tragic event that they encountered (Holbrook). Another example is that of a teenager arrested for assaulting a five-year-old girl in McDonald’s play area. This supposed assault happened in Anderson Township, near Cincinnati. The thirteen-year-old boy was then taken into custody where he was questioned. The investigator had stated that they were not sure of whether the boy was to be tried as an adult. It was a decision left to the juvenile court (Allen 15).
Juvenile courts were essentially created to deal with juvenile offenders based on their youthfulness and not their offenses. The intention of a juvenile court is to treat and guide rather than punish. Most juvenile offenders are well aware of their actions as some are old enough to differentiate right from wrong. Therefore, because of this, they should be tried as adults.
Allen, Mike. “Should we treat juvenile offenders as adults?” The Roanoke Times, 2009: 15. Print.
Bender, David and Bruno Leone. Criminal Justice: 1990 Annual. Greenhaven Press, 1990. Print.
Holbrook, Robert. “And Life to Go: Juvenile Offenders Sentenced to Life Without Parole in Pennsylvania.” 6 December, 2007. Web.
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Michon, Kathleen. When Juveniles Are Tried in Adult Criminal Court. 2009. Web.
Rautio, Daniel. Rape victims. 2008. Web.