There are many debates on whether the states should adopt the resolution on raising the age that a juvenile offender should be treated as an adult. In the state of New York, there are minors from the age of 16 to 17 that are tried as adults and there has been legislation to raise the age to 18 in which a juvenile should be charged as an adult. This change in age could cause a positive impact in the community and teenagers who are troubled and at risk of being treated as adults for a simple mistake. From the ages of 16-17, something that’s very common is that, kids in the age group are bound to get in trouble or commit some type of mistake. It could all have to do with their living situation and who they associate with and peer pressure. Teenagers at this age tend to rebel and do things that others wouldn’t agree with, but like all human beings, everyone deserves a second chance. Not to justify any crime that they commit, but there shouldn’t be any reason as to why they should be treated the same as someone at the age of 18 and older, who already have some type on conscious and know the possible consequences of where their actions could lead them. Some may disagree and say that if they commit the crime then they should pay for their actions, however, there are too many juveniles that are held in an adult detention facility, whom should be on the outside getting their life straight and being set on the right path. Someone should be pushing these teenagers to go to school and get their education rather than locking them up and wasting their youth and rotting in a cell. They need the opportunity and support that they can do something with their life and fix their wrongs and use it as something to motivate them to do better.
Even though, there are good outcomes to raising the age at which a juvenile is charged as an adult, there’s always a downside to it as well. As people grow up, some mature faster than others and are mentally smarter and know how to weigh out the good and bad. But there are some that could take advantage of these circumstances. An example could be that some of these offenders are going to be more willing to commit crimes because they’ll know or feel that they would get in less trouble simply because of their age. They might think that it’s ok for them to commit more offenses because they feel they’ll get away with it, get forgiven and then they’ll be back on the streets doing the same thing. The chances of this happening might be slim, but there’s still the possibility. Also for those that come from a life of crime, those that are in families that commit crimes, the older siblings could convince these young male and females to go out and commit these crimes that they wouldn’t want to do because of the fear that they have in landing in the prison system. They will be more willing to put their youngsters out there to shoplift and commit robberies because they know the juveniles wouldn’t face tough repercussions the same way that they would. Not only family members, but this could also gang members to start initiating and recruiting these younger adults so that they could also manipulate them and use them in their advantage and not consider and let alone care about how these juveniles’ futures could be affected. Not saying that these minors shouldn’t be punished at all, but they should still face some type of corrective action to avoid them getting lost in the system, and to get their life back on track.
One thing that a lot of people don’t take into consideration when they incarcerate these juvenile offenders, are the psychological effects that it causes. At the age of 16 and 17, there’s still a lot of things that these teenagers have yet to experience also a juvenile brain is still developing by the age of 25 (Wood, 2012). Additionally, other research suggests that the total amount of time youth is incarcerated in a residential facility, has a negative effect on the developmental trajectory of psychological maturity (Dmitrieva, 2012). Taking this into consideration, it goes to show that incarcerating these young adults, is doing more harm than good. Prison or jail, is supposed to be a place where you correct the behavior of these offenders. Correctional facilities should emphasize more on rehabilitation of the inmate and not punishing them while they’re already on the inside. The punishment is the sentence that they receive, not being punished inside of these jails or prisons. When you take someone from this age group and put them in prison, instead of incarceration, you’re preventing them from being able to do something better with their life and learn from their mistakes. Another thing that has to be taken into account is the physical abuse that they could endure while they are incarcerated with others of their age group or the older prisoners that are already there for more violent crimes. There have been scenarios where some of these juveniles are assaulted sexually and physically as well. Both sexual and physical assaults could lead to something known as PTSD which stands for post-traumatic stress disorder which is a disorder that is caused by a traumatic event and then becomes something that could affect you on a daily basis. Having your life change so dramatically in a matter of seconds could cause millions of things to run through someone’s mind. One of the most common thoughts is the thought of suicide. They feel that the only way they could escape reliving those terrifying moments, is if they just put an end to their life and not have to ever think about it, or wake up in the middle of the night because of bad nightmares.
Back in 2010 a young African-American male by the name of Kalief Browder was arrested and sent to jail at the age of 16. It is alleged that he was accused for robbery after someone that claimed that it was Kalief Browder and an accomplice, robbed a man for his backpack. After the police officers approached Mr. Browder and his friend, they didn’t have the book bag or the contents that supposedly were in the bag when Mr. Batista; the accuser, pointed them out. Even after pointing them out, his story continued to change and he wasn’t so sure when it happened. Ultimately both Browder and his friend were taken into custody. Browder’s friend was released and was able to go home, but unfortunately Mr. Browder was held and charged with robbery and sent to Rikers Island at the age of 16 all because he maintained his innocence and didn’t confess to a crime that he didn’t commit (Gonnerman, 2017). After being in jail, Kalief Browder got into a lot of trouble that wasn’t caused by him, but others that looked at him as a target and abused him. There has been videotaped evidence where it shows when a group of males assaulted Mr. Browder. There was also an incident where it shows where some correctional officers also abused him. During his stay in Riker’s Island, Kalief Browder also spent some time in solitary confinement which is when an inmate is isolated from everyone and spend 23 hours of the day inside of a room and only get 1 hour of daylight. At the age of 16, you need that contact with other people in order to keep you sane. Being away from the world for so long and days on out, you start to question your own sanity and could even cause you to hear or see things that aren’t even there. After being in being in jail for and excess of 600 days, there were multiple times where he tried to commit suicide while in solitary confinement. And even after these attempts, they still kept him in solitary confinement where they should’ve done something to help this young man and seek the medical and mental attention that he needed.
After his release, Mr. Browder tried reintegrating into society by pursuing his education and getting his GED, but things weren’t the same anymore. He starts to lose interest in those hobbies he used to enjoy and interacting with friends. His whole view on life has changed and he’s not the same person anymore because of the things that he has been through. Physically, he was a free man and could have a free life, but his mind was still suck in that jail and he couldn’t escape his thoughts. He missed out on nearly 3 years of his life in a system that’s meant to correct juveniles, but does the complete opposite. Those were years of his life that he will never get back no matter what he did, and all these thoughts and struggles led him to take his own life. In a moment in life where all he needed help, he was turned down and received the total opposite and it changed his view on life.