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Eriq Gale-Anderson WRT1010 Research Paper Juvenile Justice Juvenile crimes started to take flight around the late 80s and early 1990s which made it hard for the youth because they were immediately sentenced as adults and put into adult prison. There were 2,484 youth offenders serving L.WO.P. (Life without parole) sentences based on a 2008 report. Although critics say harsh sentences are the best protection for society, advocates for changes in juvenile justice says harsh sentences make juveniles more dangerous. Juveniles are not fully developed emotionally and intellectually, and there are more effective ways to rehabilitate juveniles rather than send them to adult court and prisons. William Blackstone who was an 18th century British Lawyer paved the way for the juvenile justice system. His thoughts on juvenile punishment were that infants aged from birth to 6 years old were ineligible to be sentenced, but children from ages 7 to 14 years old were considered adults and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent (Juvenile justice, 2002). The U.S. justice system adopted Blackstones concepts which led to the first juvenile court opened in 1899 in Chicago. Throughout decades the Court system exercised treating youth with care until the late 1960s. During the middle 1960s, the Supreme Court wanted to give juveniles the same treatment as the adults by giving them the death penalty for crimes. Courts later on decided to not charge juveniles with status crimes or illegal crimes only for young people like buying cigarettes under The Juvenile

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Delinquency Prevention and Control Act of 1968 (Juvenile justice, 2002). This law basically sheltered youth from harsh punishments based on their crime or illegal action they did. Down the road, lawmakers began to be more specific in their sentencing of youth by strengthening a law in 1974 that pulls offenders from confinement who were incarcerated for status crimes. Youth crimes began to rise around the late 80s and early 90s in which people began to call the youth superpredators. This started to bring about different ways to contain this violence by the Supreme Court. Also, this started somewhat of a war between youth advocates and prosecutors views on juvenile justice. When juveniles commit a crime they can either be sent to a juvenile facility or to an adult facility depending on what the crime was. When a juvenile offender is sent to an adult facility they face harsh punishments of long sentences, no parole, or maybe even the death penalty which is only done in certain states. A supporter for the incarceration for juvenile states that some people are simply too dangerous to be free, and have willfully surrendered their freedom by committing atrocious crimes. U.S. courts do not routinely sentence juveniles to life without parole (Sentencing Juveniles to Life Without Parole, 2009). Since there are people who encourage this type of incarceration some juveniles are sent to jail or prison with lengthy sentences. About half of the prisoners who are released from prison returned within that same year because of a repeated offense (Whitehead, 2011). Most of the prisoners had lighter sentences, but the ones who had harsher sentences committed fewer crimes than those who were incarcerated for less time. When a teenager is sent to adult prison he or she is more of a target rather than an inmate who had been there longer than the new comer.

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When a teen commits a crime he or she was either pressured by a peer or wasnt thinking about the consequences for the crime. Teens are tried as adults now, but the court system has to see that teens are not fully developed mentally and emotionally and tend to act out of impulse. Psychologist David Walsh stated that The prefrontal cortex is supposed to harness the accelerator center of the brain, but the impulse-control center is under construction (Megan, 2004). This goes to say that it takes more time for a teen to process information and when a teen is confronted with a tough situation he or she usually makes a bad decision. Dr. Walsh basically states that adults are more developed mentally and can see a outcome of an situation rather than a teen who uses part of their brain. When a judge sentences teens, most judges them to jail with no parole for a long time unlike juvenile centers that helps get to the reason for the teens actions. Rehab helps some youth understand what they can fix in their lives so they can function properly in society instead of being stripped of their rights and sent away. As a teen, they tend to go an emotional rollercoaster and their mental process lacks some basic functions until a certain age. Dr. Walsh believes that teens also tend to misinterpret information based on the lack of their developed brains (Megan, 2004). For teens who had committed a crime, a capital punishment shouldnt await them, but a solution should. Even supporters against teens being tried as adults campaign against harsh sentencing for youth offenders no matter what the crime. They believe that if the offender goes through some form of rehabilitation he or she will learn from his or her actions.

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Even though some people believe that teens shouldnt be tried as adults and have harsh sentences, others think that it would be better for teens who committed harsh crimes to be sent away without parole. Juvenile violence is at its highest since 1976 (Juvenile justice, 2002). Supporters for youth imprisonment want youth to pay for deadly crimes like an adult. In 2001 in Florida a boy named Lionel Tate who was 14 murdered a six year old and was sentenced to life (Juvenile justice, 2006). Supporters want more of affirmative action instead of the rehab substitute. Another case that stands for the imprisonment for youth is the Stanford v Kentucky case. In 1981 Kevin Nigel Stanford was accused of raping and killing a woman at a gas station at the age of 17 and in 2002 was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court with a 5-4 decision (Juvenile justice). Experts push for tougher laws for sentencing and the funding to follow in order to keep youth offenders away. There is a bill or act which is the $1.2 billion Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support and Education Act (Youth Promise Act) (Billiteri, 2010). This act is basically a community based prevention program and a bill the plans ways for different interventions. There are also others acts that go against the freedom of youth offenders which keeps them off the streets. In other states the age to be tried as an adult can be below 15 which can immediately send a teen to jail for whatever crime was committed.

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Even though some say that rehabilitation isnt worth it for teen offenders, others say it is very worth it to the youth. Some people find that rehab is much better than immediately sending a youth to jail or prison with a harsh sentence. Around 2001 President Bush issued an executive order which established the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (Prisoner Rehabilitation and Recidivism, 2005). Along with this initiative which brought more of rising to non-profit charity groups, the Justice Department introduced the Going Home Initiative. This basically reduced violence after incarceration for prisoners. Since President Bush and the Justice Department introduced their initiatives certain states saw a decline in returning prisoners and the rate of crime. In Texas, the Criminal Justice Council saw a decrease in returning offenders by two-thirds due to Faith-Based Rehabilitation Programs. Rehabilitation programs are effective to prisoners, and are very effective in reducing rates of crimes after imprisonment. Besides religious based rehab programs there are others like community service, employment training and education programs. Programs like these are popular in jails and prisons and have been around for five or more years (Prisoner Rehabilitation and Recidivism, 2005). Despite what non-supporters think, rehab helps rejuvenate teens and adults who are incarcerated. Even if all of the prisoners dont get rehab, for those who do receive it become a better person. At first the Justice System did not know how to deal with teen crimes whether it was not urgent or if it was downright heinous, but the Court System just killed the youth. Back then the Court System was not structured to deal with the youth.

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The whole situation about juveniles being sent to jail with the death penalty without life without parole is a serious issue in todays society. Despite the issue being life consuming for the youth, there are people that fight against harsh punishments for teens and bring up rehabilitation as a solution for all. Others debate that if someone takes a life then the killer must have their life taken either by plenty of years in imprisonment or by death. It seems that the issue of Juvenile Justice is bias because there are good reasons for locking away teens who have committed crimes supporters would claim, and there are ways to avoid imprisonment supporters for teen rehab would claim. At first the Justice System did not know how to deal with teen crimes whether it was not urgent or if it was downright heinous, but the Court System just killed the youth. Back then the Court System was not structured to deal with the youth. The Juvenile Delinquency Prevention and Control Act of 1968 prevented juvenile offenders from being subject to harsh punishments based on the extent of their crime. This law gave more structure for teens that were and are incarcerated. For non-supporters certain cases of violence like Stanford v. Kentucky proves their point that teens should be jailed for their crimes, but based on teens brains not being fully developed, the teen acts out of impulse and cannot decipher his or her actions and outcomes like adults. Nonsupporters are ready to end a teens life, but when a teen kills, rapes, or does some other terrible crime help is definitely needed.

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Works Cited "Alternative Ways ." (2002): n.pag. Issues and Controversies. Web. 2 Dec 2013. <http://www.2facts.com>. "Juvenile Justice." (2002): n.pag. Issues and Controversies. Web. 2 Dec 2013. <http://www.2facts.com>. Whitehead, Tom. "Freed prisoners graduate to violent crime after jail." Telegraph. 17 Mar 2011: n. page. Print. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk>. "Prisoner Rehabilitation and Recidivism." (2005): n.pag. Issues and Controversies. Web. 2 Dec 2013. <http://www.2facts.com>. "Juvenile justice." (2006): n.pag. Issues and Controversies. Web. 2 Dec 2013. <http://www.2facts.com>. Billiteri, Thomas. "Youth Violence." 20.9 (2010): n.pag. CQ Reseacher. Web. 2 Dec 2013. <http://library.cqpress.com>. Whitehead, Tom. "Freed prisoners graduate to violent crime after jail." Telegraph. 17 Mar 2011: n. page. Print. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk>.