Equal Punishment for Adults and Juveniles
As more minors are committing violent crimes, the question of whether they should be tried as adults has arisen. Children as young as 13 or 14 are committing violent crimes such as murder, rape, and armed robbery. Some of these children are being tried as adults
while others are being tried as juveniles
and receiving milder punishments. A juvenile offender may receive a few years in a juvenile detention facility and possibly probation following his release at age eighteen. An adult committing the same violent crime will receive a much harsher penalty, often years in jail, possibly a life sentence, with little or no chance of parole. The only difference between the two offenders is the age at which they committed the crime. Juveniles over the age of fourteen should be tried as adults when accused of violent crimes
Forty-one states currently have laws that make it easier to try a juvenile that has committed a violent crime and is over the age of 14 as an adult. In 1995, Texas lowered the age a juvenile could be tried as an adult from 15 to 14. Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana also have laws setting the minimum age a juvenile can be tried as an adult at 14. At age fourteen the average person is mentally mature enough to understand the consequences associated with committing a crime.
If a juvenile, over fourteen has the ability and willingness to commit a violent crime they should be tried and punished as an adult. A fourteen year old knows right from wrong. He (or she) is able to tell whether they are committing a crime. If a juvenile is mature enough to commit an adult crime, they should be treated as an adult, and punished justly according to the adult law. The difference in age in two people should not determine their punishment if they have committed the same crime under the same or similar pretenses.
Juveniles are constantly being exposed to violence through movies, television, and video games. Young children, those age 13 and under, may find it natural to mimic these sources. Teenagers, fourteen and older, however, are beyond the stage of imitation. They no longer imitate actions they see on television or in the movies. They have reached a level of maturity that allows them to think and act for themselves. They are at an age where they can make up their own minds and decide for themselves to do things, such as bathe or prepare basic food items. These teenagers still need guidance in life, but no longer need someone to hold their hand.
A juvenile offender should be tried according to his crime. If he has committed a juvenile crime, then juvenile punishment is fitting. However, if he has committed an adult crime, or violent crime, a harsher punishment is needed. A teenager will not be taught anything or learn to take responsibility for their actions, if they are treated with special care and consideration when acting as an adult. A fourteen year old has the metal capacity to determine right from wrong, even when it comes to committing violent crimes. An adult crime deserves an adult punishment, even when the offender is a juvenile.