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Molly Hargon

Bowyer

Expos 2

21 Feb. 2017

Harm is Where I Draw the Line

Our juvenile justice system tends to put away children who have a whole life ahead of

them and who have only committed a minor crime. If these kids are put away for the rest of their

life do they miss out on life and could they maybe have changed themselves for better? The

problem with this issue is that it depends on so many aspects: the age of the person who commits

the crime, the type of crime, and the situation that the person is in. All of these different factors

make it extremely complicated to fingerprint a specific law for juvenile justice. A juvenile who

is convicted of an intentional and extreme crime, such as murder or rape, is a very different from

one who did not intend to hurt someone at all or is being an ignorant teenager. But those who do

commit a very extreme crime such as murder, deserve to be tried and punished as an adult.

Crimes are not something that should be disregarded, but putting a juvenile in prison for the rest

of their life is a big decision, and should only happen if the crime is harmful to another being.

According to the federal government, the second a person turns eighteen they are fully

grown and fully developed. If there is a seventeen year old and a nineteen year old who both

commit an intentional murder, the seventeen year old can plead that they are not fully developed

and receive a different treatment, but is a two year difference really that much? If someone has

the nerve to take another person precious life then they deserve the same sentence that an adult

would receive. When it comes to murder, rape, or crimes that show harm to another person there
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should be no exceptions. Put yourself in the position of your loved one being murdered by a teen

killer, how would you feel if they just got off without life in prison just because they are not over

the age of eighteen? And how do we know they are not a serial killer in the making? It is hard to

tell but better be safe than sorry. Jenkins says, JLWOP has spent millions of dollars advocating

for these convicted murderers to be set free(Jenkins). An organization is spending millions of

dollars on people who took the sweet innocent life away from another human being. Some say

they get a rush out of breaking the law (Jenkins). Cold hard killers can not be changed, it is

how their brain is wired. Although it may sound cruel murder, rape, and other extreme crimes is

where I draw the line, and those criminals should be punished with life.

Extreme crimes such as murder or rape are the extreme case and juveniles should be

punished just as an adult would, but giving a adolescent life in prison for a minor repeated crime

such as burglary, or arson has no business being done. According to Garinger, a well trusted

juvenile judge, minors are, less mature, more vulnerable to peer pressure, cannot escape from

dangerous environments, and their characters are still in formation. (Garinger). Some people

mess up as young adults, does not mean they are terrible people and gives us no right to shame

them for the rest of their lives. Not giving minors life in prison for a minor crime doesnt mean

no punishment at all, it includes punishment, but not for life. Instead, our government should put

in rehabilitation programs for these adolescents after they serve their imprisonment to help

change and turn their life around. We need to introduce more school systems like the one

featured in the documentary Prison Kids (Prison Kids). These schools take in troubled kids that

normal schools have no tolerance for. The purpose of these schools is to rehabilitate these kids

and change their behavior, while providing them with an education. Incorporating more school
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systems like this one can change more troubled minors lives and keep them out of prison and

trouble. Rehabilitation tends to work in teens, Garinger says, I have seen firsthand the enormous

capacity of children to change and turn themselves around. The same malleability that makes the,

vulnerable to to peer pressure also makes them promising candidates for rehabilitation

(Garinger). Our government needs to start taking more steps towards prevention of minor

crimes. For Adolescents, minor crimes should be punished, but not as harshly as a crime like

murder.

Juveniles may not be fully developed, but this is no excuse when the crime is as extreme

as a murder or rape. If a teenager has the nerve to take someone elses life and put the family of

the victim in pain for eternity, they better serve a life in prison. On the other hand, the juvenile

system should not be handing out life sentences to kids who committed minor crimes. It is hard

to tell whether the criminal will turn their life around, and when it comes to murder we need to

play the safe card and assume they wont. Although, when a adolescent commits a minor crime

they should be punished in prison and then placed in a rehabilitation program or school that will

help turn their life around. Our juvenile system gets complicated, but the bottom line is we need

to do what is safest for the good of our society and country.

Word count:914
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Works cited:

1. Garinger, Gail. Juveniles Dont Deserve Life Sentences. New York Times 15 Mar. 2012,

New

York ed.: A35. Print.

2. Jenkins, Jennifer Bishop. On Punishment and Teen Killers. Juvenile Justice Information

Exchange. 2 Aug. 2011. Web. 11 June 2012.

<http://jjie.org/jennifer-bishop-jenkins-on-punishmentteen-killers/19184 >.]

3. Prison Kids. N.p., n.d. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NifPxtGi-Ns>.