This world is full of good, bad, awareness and ignorance. Monday night I took part in a twitter conversation revolving around the punishment for youth criminal offenders, and whether or not they should be tried as adults. I am of the opinion that it very much depends on the crime at hand. For instance, let’s say that a shoplifter is arrested for the 10th time, and this person is 35 years old. I think it is a safe assumption to conclude that this is a habitual thief. This person has been stealing for years and deserves no leniency for their crime. On the other hand, let us say that a 12-year-old kid is caught shoplifting, unlike their older counterpart, I think that intervention in this case is possible. I believe that we can try to help this kid get out of whatever situation drove them to commit this crime.
Now if you apply the same type of age difference to the crime of murder or rape, or some other form of violent crime, then I am not as forgiving. Monday night I read all sorts of theories, ranging from “kid’s brains are not developed enough” to the infamous “it’s not their fault; they do as is done to them.” My response to this?
Give me a freaking break! Growing up I got the crap beat out of me on a daily basis! Judging by the level of violence I experienced at the hand of thug trash, according to their logic, I should be a ravenous, murderous psychopath. I am not. According to their kumbaya-spread-love logic, children just don’t know the difference between right and wrong; they don’t understand what they are doing and cannot control their impulses. Well, by that logic, all children should be murderous psychopaths. They are not.
As I mentioned earlier, a child committing petty crimes such as stealing a baseball cap, or tagging up on the walls, should not be held to the same standard as an adult who should know better. Those kids can still be saved, and that being considered, I am willing to give them a second, maybe even a third chance before more seriously punishing them. Perhaps a three strikes and you are no longer a minor rule. Seems fair doesn’t it? This provides enough of an opportunity to recover, while also providing the knowledge that continued offenses will carry dire consequences.
On the other hand, a minor that commits murder should immediately be subject to the same punishments as adults. I’m still undecided as to whether they should go to a special minor jail or right into adult prison with the big fish. After all, murder is a big boy crime. Here is an example, let’s say a 12-year-old kid is told that to join the gang xyz then he has to kill a member of the gang abc, or even worst, a random, unassociated civilian! That 12-year-old then goes and murders another human being to be inducted into this gang. How could anyone feel sorry for this kid? How do these fools think? “It’s not the kid’s fault; it’s the environment’s fault. It’s George W. Bush and the Republican’s fault!”
I recognize that some of us grow up under very strenuous circumstances, but I don’t buy that for one second as an excuse to murder! There is always a choice. For those of you thinking otherwise, I’m not completely ignorant; I know there are circumstances where a kid is forced to commit heinous acts under threat of violence or worse. However, I also know that most people that do commit crimes do so out of opportunity or their own accord.
What are your thoughts? Should young criminals get special treatment when they enter the criminal-justice system? What are your thoughts? Sound off in the comments!
Image: Courtesy of: http://www.spaulforrest.com/2011/09/judge-receives-over-17-year-sentence.html