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Juvenile Justice

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Juvenile Justice
By:Bill

In today's society juveniles are being tried in adult courts, given the death penalty, and sent to prison. Should fourteen-year olds accused of murder or rape automatically be tried as adults? Should six-teen year olds and seven-teen year olds tried in adult courts be forced to serve time in adult prisons, where they are more likely to be sexually assaulted and to become repeat offenders. How much discretion should a judge have in deciding the fate of a juvenile accused of a crime - serious, violent, or otherwise? The juvenile crime rate that was so alarming a few years ago has begun to fall - juvenile felony arrest rates in California have declined by more than forty percent in the last twenty years. While California's juvenile population rose by a half a million since the middle and late 1970's, juveniles made up less than fifth-teen percent of California's felony arrests in 1998, compared to thirty percent in 1978; according to the Justice Policy Institute. The juvenile arrests have dropped back, even as the population of kids between ages of ten and eight-teen has continued to grow, and the number of kids confined in the California Youth Authority (CYA) has fallen. With all the progress our society has made in cutting back in juvenile crimes there is still a very serious problem. But if locking kids up is the best way to address it, how do we explain a drop in crime when there are more teens in California and fewer in custody? First we must look at the economy around us. With so many job opportunities available more and more teenagers find honest ways to keep busy and make money. Our generation has a brighter future than the generation a decade ago. Next we look at successful crime prevention efforts: after-school programs, mentoring, teen outreach programs, truancy abatement, anti-gang programs, family resource centers. There is evidence that these programs are beginning to pay off. Sending more, and younger teens through the adult court system has been a trend across the country in reaction to crimes, such as school shootings and violent rapes. Yet evidence shows that treating youth as adults does not reduce crime. In Florida, where probability wise more kids are tried as adults then in any other state, studies found that youth sent through the adult court system are twice as likely to commit more crimes when they're release...

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... proponents say 'cracks down on the worst of the worst among teen criminals.' It is unbelievable that our society will allow for such a law. It seems unfair that a fourteen year old child can make a mistake and pay for it the rest of his/her life. The reason our system has never tried youth as adults is because they are not mature enough to think like an adult and take responsibility for themselves. At such a young age there is still hope for an alteration in his/her lifestyle, locking the child up only diminishes the chance of change. Children act out for attention and in many cases do whatever it takes to get that attention; even if it means bringing a gun to school, or going into a store and stealing a pack of gum. Our society must realize there is a problem with today's youth and find where it stems from - only then is there any hope for change. Putting children into prisons is like pushing dirt under a rug; the dirt can only sit for so long until someone realizes there's a problem and looks to see what the problem is. Our society has been pushing dirt under the rug for so long now that it's only a matter of time until the dirt chafes a hole right through the worn out rug.
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