Juvenile Punishment

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An estimated 250,000 youth are tried, sentenced, or incarcerated every year across the United States (campaign for youth justice). There is large controversy regarding whether or not children and young adults should be required to be sentenced as adults, regardless of their age and circumstance. This is believed to be the most logical way of approaching this matter because every case should undergo the same consequences despite the criminal’s circumstances. An opposing view would argue that it is necessary to take into consideration the situation of each criminal case before deciding on the punishment. They would also claim that children specifically, should be given another chance due to their lack of maturity. Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy …show more content…
Because of this, they become vulnerable and have no power to defend themselves. The inability of these children to shield themselves creates an imbalance of power between the adolescents and the grown adults. One of many things that children cope with in such environments is physical and sexual abuse. (include statistic). One of the cases Stevenson had dealt with was with a fourteen year-old boy named Charlie with no juvenile criminal history-- no prior arrests, no misconduct in school, no delinquencies or prior court appearances (book). Charlie had shot and killed a man named George, a local police officer. Because of this, Charlie was placed into an adult jail where he regularly faced sexual abuse and assault. Charlie explains to Stevenson the severity of his abuse and says, “There were three men who hurt me on the first night. They touched me and made me do things.” Charlie was felt helpless and could not comprehend how he was placed in those situations. He was weaker than his inmates and was therefore continuously taken advantage of. Many victims of assault in jail tend to resort to hostility as a mechanism for self defense. Because a juvenile’s identity is still developing, he or she can potentially adopt negative behaviors that are the norm in a hostile prison environment. The fear of being victimized or assaulted produces a need for security and juveniles will focus solely on their safety. It is inappropriate to place adolescents in an atmosphere where they are constantly frightened of being harmed. Placing them in adult prisons will eventually make them aggressive towards others because they feel it is important to defend themselves in every situation. Another case that Stevenson discusses is about a 16 year-old female with mental disabilities that was sentenced to life. Trina Garnett was the youngest of twelve children living in the poorest

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