Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: Juvenille offenders...or are they?
America's Debate > Archive > Policy Debate Archive > [A] Domestic Policy
Google
carlitoswhey
It seems to me that every time a young person commits a crime, particularly a high-profile crime, you can expect to hear these words in the news coverage - "prosecutors are considering charging him as an adult." I am not a legal expert, but this always makes me think twice.

Here are some examples randomly culled from the news, where sometimes we do and sometimes we don't charge juvenile offenders as adults.

Jury rejects killer boy's Zoloft defense
QUOTE
CHARLESTON, S.C. — A 15-year-old boy who claimed the antidepressant Zoloft drove him to kill his grandparents and burn their house down was found guilty of murder Tuesday and sentenced to 30 years in prison.  The jury took six hours to reject Christopher Pittman's claim that he was "involuntarily intoxicated" by the drug and could not be held responsible for the crime.

The case was one of the first of its kind to come to trial in the United States since the government began taking a close look at the dangers of antidepressant use among teenagers.

Pittman was 12 in 2001 when he killed his grandparents, Joe Pittman, 66, and Joy Pittman, 62, with a pump-action shotgun as they slept in their rural home, then torched their house and drove off in their car. He was charged as an adult.


Teen Put in Juvenile Custody in Killing
QUOTE
Samantha S. Staycoff, the 17-year-old Lusby girl charged in October with killing her 3-month-old baby by stuffing a pair of socks into his mouth, acknowledged her involvement in the infant's death last week and was placed in the custody of state juvenile authorities Thursday.
...
Staycoff, a former Patuxent High School senior, initially was charged as an adult and had been facing a combined maximum of 60 years in prison if she had been convicted of the criminal charges against her -- first-degree child abuse and second-degree murder.


Teen, alleged mastermind in drug ring, to be prosecuted as adult
QUOTE
FLAGSTAFF - A teenager accused of being the mastermind behind a marijuana sales ring targeting at least three Flagstaff schools has been charged as an adult.

Seventeen-year-old Matthew French is charged with a number of drug and weapons offenses.


Questions for debate:

Should we have different sets of laws or penalties for lawbreaking based on age?

If we do have different laws, is it ever appropriate to charge youths with "adult" crimes? If so, when and why? Who decides?

Are these judgements being pursued fairly througout our legal system or are we discriminating against some juveniles due to the nature / victim of their particular crime?

Is there a benefit to society in deciding that some juveniles are "adults" for some purpose (law-breaking) but not adults for other purposes (voting / drinking)?
Google
concerro
QUOTE(carlitoswhey @ Mar 1 2005, 10:21 AM)
It seems to me that every time a young person commits a crime, particularly a high-profile crime, you can expect to hear these words in the news coverage - "prosecutors are considering charging him as an adult."  I am not a legal expert, but this always makes me think twice.

Here are some examples randomly culled from the news, where sometimes we do and sometimes we don't charge juvenile offenders as adults.

Jury rejects killer boy's Zoloft defense
QUOTE
CHARLESTON, S.C. — A 15-year-old boy who claimed the antidepressant Zoloft drove him to kill his grandparents and burn their house down was found guilty of murder Tuesday and sentenced to 30 years in prison.  The jury took six hours to reject Christopher Pittman's claim that he was "involuntarily intoxicated" by the drug and could not be held responsible for the crime.

The case was one of the first of its kind to come to trial in the United States since the government began taking a close look at the dangers of antidepressant use among teenagers.

Pittman was 12 in 2001 when he killed his grandparents, Joe Pittman, 66, and Joy Pittman, 62, with a pump-action shotgun as they slept in their rural home, then torched their house and drove off in their car. He was charged as an adult.


Teen Put in Juvenile Custody in Killing
QUOTE
Samantha S. Staycoff, the 17-year-old Lusby girl charged in October with killing her 3-month-old baby by stuffing a pair of socks into his mouth, acknowledged her involvement in the infant's death last week and was placed in the custody of state juvenile authorities Thursday.
...
Staycoff, a former Patuxent High School senior, initially was charged as an adult and had been facing a combined maximum of 60 years in prison if she had been convicted of the criminal charges against her -- first-degree child abuse and second-degree murder.


Teen, alleged mastermind in drug ring, to be prosecuted as adult
QUOTE
FLAGSTAFF - A teenager accused of being the mastermind behind a marijuana sales ring targeting at least three Flagstaff schools has been charged as an adult.

Seventeen-year-old Matthew French is charged with a number of drug and weapons offenses.


Questions for debate:

Should we have different sets of laws or penalties for lawbreaking based on age?

If we do have different laws, is it ever appropriate to charge youths with "adult" crimes? If so, when and why? Who decides?

Are these judgements being pursued fairly througout our legal system or are we discriminating against some juveniles due to the nature / victim of their particular crime?

Is there a benefit to society in deciding that some juveniles are "adults" for some purpose (law-breaking) but not adults for other purposes (voting / drinking)?
*


I have never agreed with those decisions. Either I am an adult or I am not. I dont think its fair to treat someone as a kid, and then be able to call them an adult later. If someone can be punished like an adult then they should be given adult privelges. If they cant be treated like an adult then it is because society things they are not responsible enough so why hold them to that standard?
kimpossible
This response is going to be a little incomplete, because I should be doing research.

I think there is something wrong with a system of law that persecutes minors for crimes, and yet wont let them vote or drink beer. It seems to me that the application of "try as an adult" is always put into place more for vengence than for justice. 13 year old commits a heinous crime that disgusts the nation? Tried as an adult! Nevermind that we dont deem 13 yr olds old enough to have sex, or have mature relationships, or understand love, or sign a contract, or have a beer, or drive a car, but they are old enough to kill people. I think it sends an inconsistent message. Not to mention, the application is somewhat arbitrary. Is every 13 yr. old murderer charged as an adult? Or only some?

At 13 or even 17 years old, there are times when you don't fully understand the consequences of your actions. And society does little to try to understand the adolescent mind, rather it would seek the easy answer of placing adult responsibility on a group that is constantly denied adult repsonsibility.

Ol Sarge
The law could be in need of revision to make any sense in our new youth’s lack of innocence. Perhaps this plays into the NAMBLA thread also…

Kids are not the same as when laws were written some forty or fifty years ago when the youth were routinely blind to so many criminal behaviors that are glorified on the movies and in music. In fact much of the criminals of 1950’s would probably blush at the thought of committing crimes that are committed today.

Here is the down and dirty of the topic kids are too physically and mentally immature to make rational decisions and incapable to properly judge equally to an adult the actions they take. However, there is no fair way to judge them because parents rear some and wolves rear some. Regardless who is rearing the child the child “must be responsible” for their actions unless they fall into the mentally impaired category. Let me provide an example: When I was seven and my brother was eight there was a neighbor kid who was raised by wolves and he was 16 and had a new bow and arrow set prepared for deer season that us young kids thought was very cool because he was allowed to have the weapon. To make a long story a little shorter he was not retarded but started shooting the tri-razor pointed arrows strait up in the air and had us kids recover them as they came back down. A neighbor kid my age couldn’t see the arrow coming strait for him and got his thumb split open so we told our mom. Of course she told dad and dad came from work and broke the teenagers bow and arrows, kicked his butt off the ground to the wolves house and then kicked the wolves butt off the ground until he thought he got the message. Yet when I was 12 my dad allowed me to buy a 22 rifle with a 1-mile killing range and I never shot at low flying airplanes or people on the ground because I as the 16 year old boy knew it would be wrong but I knew I would be responsible.

All people respond to authority that are responsible regardless who implanted the basic respect for right and wrong. Not knowing the law doesn’t eliminate you from punishment when you harm another person regardless of age unless you are mentally challenged. While youth are vulnerable their vulnerability is not an excuse for harm to another person. Punishment should be common knowledge for crimes and regardless of age a child should be held accountable for crime especially resulting in harm to another person. Petty crime should be dealt with firmness with the understanding of a child’s vulnerability but no pass for harm to another person.
Antny
Should we have different sets of laws or penalties for lawbreaking based on age?

Yes. We have a different set of responsibilities and privaleges, we should als ohave separate laws.

If we do have different laws, is it ever appropriate to charge youths with "adult" crimes? If so, when and why? Who decides?

"Ever" is a big generalization... Sure I suppose that some time, under some circumstance there could be circumstances. The prosecution should move to "try as an adult" and the judge and/or jury should decide.


Are these judgements being pursued fairly througout our legal system or are we discriminating against some juveniles due to the nature / victim of their particular crime?

Yes, Juvenile sex offenders are perhaps some of the worst. There's an interesting research project comparison at http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/. You have to use the on site search function for "juvenile sex offenders" and find the particular research project » A Comparative Study of Juvenile Sex Offenders and Non-Sex Offenders
1994 June. Cheryl Milloy. #94-06-1101.


Is there a benefit to society in deciding that some juveniles are "adults" for some purpose (law-breaking) but not adults for other purposes (voting / drinking)?

Not really, not that I can see. We have a Juvenile justice system that can prosecute. They still face consequences, even if not as adults.
bucket
QUOTE
Should we have different sets of laws or penalties for lawbreaking based on age?

Yes. I take no issue with this at all and I feel it is necessary.


QUOTE
If we do have different laws, is it ever appropriate to charge youths with "adult" crimes? If so, when and why? Who decides?

I think that a court of law could listen to special needs or cases to make an exception and decide to apply the law differently. I don't take issue with a 17 yr old being tried as an adult for murder to avoid them being released in a yr. I do take issue tho. with the death penalty being sought for minors.


QUOTE
Are these judgements being pursued fairly througout our legal system or are we discriminating against some juveniles due to the nature / victim of their particular crime?

Well I think it is pretty much well proven that the justice system as a whole discriminates unfortunately so yes this would be true in regards to juveniles as well.


QUOTE
Is there a benefit to society in deciding that some juveniles are "adults" for some purpose (law-breaking) but not adults for other purposes (voting / drinking)?

I am not really sure what is meant by benefit...perhaps justification? The law says that children or juveniles are special and in need of special protection. I feel the law should extend that same protection they wish to give juveniles in our society to all realms of our society..even within the government (the law) itself. If children are in need of special protection in the private domain then we must assume that same protection is needed publicly too. I don't feel that the government has special access to my child or anyone else's that is above and beyond the access they afford us privately. I do feel it is necessary to lend our society's most vulnerable added protection and I especially believe this remains true when they are in the hands of the gov.

carlitoswhey
A timely development on this topic as the Supreme Court has just ruled on death sentences for juvenile offenders.
SCOTUS blog
QUOTE
Juvenile death sentences nullified
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Tuesday that the death penalty "is a disproportionate punishment for juveniles," and thus it violates the Eighth Amendment to impose a death sentence on a youthful murderer who committed the crime before age 18. Today, the Court said, "society views juveniles as categorically less culpable than the average criminal."

While conceding that drawing the line against capital punishment at age 18 might be debatable, the Court said: "The age of 18 is the point where society draws the line for many purposes between childhood and adulthood. It is, we conclude, the age at which the line for death eligibility ought to rest."

<snip>

"The differences between juvenile and adult offenders are too marked and well understood to risk allowing a youthful person to receive the death penalty despite insufficient culpability," Kennedy wrote. "When a juvenile offender commits a heinous crime, the state can exact forfeiture of some of the most basic liberties, but the state cannot extinguish his life and his potential to attain a mature understanding of his own humanity."

His opinion was joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David H. Souter and John Paul Stevens. Both Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Antonin Scalia wrote dissenting opinions. Scalia's dissent was joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas. Scalia recited at length from his dissent after Kennedy announced the ruling.

The decision overturned a 5-4 decision by the Court in 1989, in Stanford v. Kentucky, allowing the execution of murderers who committed their crimes when they were 16 or 17 years old. (The Court had ruled in Thompson v. Oklahoma in 1988 that individuals under age 16 at the time of their crimes could not be given death sentences.) In the Stanford decision, the Court majority found there was no national consensus against executing those between ages 15 and 18.


I find myself agreeing with the majority of the SCOTUS here, I just can't fathom killing someone for a crime that they committed while they were under 18. Also, I think that it's unusual for a Chief Justice to not only dissent, but to read extensively from his own dissent in reading the opinion. Interesting case, but one that I find heartening, along with the 2002 finding that retarded shouldn't be put to death either.

I refrained from giving my personal opinion when stating the topic, but I think that charging children "as adults" makes as much sense as charging men "as women" or indeed "as space aliens." Children need protection from this sort of prosecutorial latitude, and I hope the courts give it to them if voters won't.
overlandsailor
Should we have different sets of laws or penalties for lawbreaking based on age?

Yes, but they need to be equitable.

If we do have different laws, is it ever appropriate to charge youths with "adult" crimes? If so, when and why? Who decides?

No. Not unless we are willing to allow children to be treated like adults in all other areas of life.

Are these judgements being pursued fairly throughout our legal system or are we discriminating against some juveniles due to the nature / victim of their particular crime?

Not just the particular crime. It is often based as much on the level of media coverage the crime gets, and the desire of the prosecutors and government to be seen as "hard on crime". It is often playing the public relations game with the lives of others.

Is there a benefit to society in deciding that some juveniles are "adults" for some purpose (law-breaking) but not adults for other purposes (voting / drinking)?

No. However, there is also no benefit for our society to not have a legal vehicle to allow the punishment to fit the crime. We need to reform the Juvenile Legal system, not do an end run around it for political expediency.


I posted the following in another topic on a similar subject. I did not realized that this one had existed prior to posting in the other. Since the other is on a topic similar enough to this on that I think it might be closed, I am re-posting my comments here as this was the first of the two (and how I missed it is beyond me cool.gif ).


I do agree with the Supreme Court ruling that the death penalty cannot be applied to juveniles, though I must confess that my view may be tainted, as I am opposed to the death penalty in general. However, I agree with the greater principle that I see at the heart of this issue. A principle the Justices were careful not to definitively address. dry.gif

The issue of charging juveniles as adults has always been a tough one for me. Those opposed point out, as the justices did, that the age of 18 is the defining age of responsibility in our land. Those in support point to the horrors and tragedies of unimaginably brutal crimes committed by the hands of the young.

For me it becomes a question of approach. Should we charge Juveniles as adults? No. We do not grant them adult status in virtually any other areas of life. We do this because we do not feel they are responsible enough to make proper decisions. Yet, we would hold them accountable for some decisions, on the same level as an adult, simply because of their grotesque nature. To me, this is a hypocrisy of the highest order, and a cop out of sorts.

There is no question that there are children who commit horrendous crimes. And there is no question that, for the good of our society we need to punish criminals with punishments that fit the crime, even when the criminal is a child. But I wonder, why is it, we do not change the punishment limits that restrict juvenile courts instead of charge them as adults?

When a child commits a horrible crime, that child needs to be punished. This is not to seek rehabilitation (though we should strive for it whenever possible), but to establish order by example, and maintain a civilized society. Children learn by example. Sometimes the example is set by the adults in their life (for good or ill), sometimes the example is set by their peers (for good or ill), and sometimes the example is set by society (for good or ill).

However, Children are logical creatures. I see this logic at work behind the eyes of my daughter on a daily basis. When we abandon logic, in favor of emotion, or in favor of the "easy fix" they see it, they question it, and they sometimes question the source. When authority figures loose credibility in the eyes of our children, we risk dooming these children to a life of selfish greed, satisfied to the detriment of the rest of us.

Do take the easy way out. Do not decide to treat a child as an adult. Decide to treat children as children, but be willing to hold them accountable for their actions, with punishments that match the level of the crime committed. Do not selectively apply a different legal standard to juveniles when it makes you feel better, reform the juvenile legal system so that when the crime is heinous, so is the punishment. At least then, we can teach children the ways of individual responsiblity, though example, without the hypocrisy.
Wertz
I think, as a society, we should have one set of rules which apply across the board. If we establish a maximum age of "minority" it should apply to everything. Voting rights, driving rights, gun legislation, age of consent, criminal law - everything. It's absurd to arbitrarily determine that one is "mature" enough to hunt at one age, drive at another, have sex at a third, be eligible for military conscription at a fourth, vote at a fifth, etc. And I believe that age should be set on the basis of physiology. If one is sexually mature - capable of breeding - one is mature, period. If "children" are not mature enough by twelve to fourteen to make "adult decisions", then there's something wrong with out education system and/or our parenting skills.

The only exception I would make here is in relation to education and military service. If one is attending compulsory education, obviously one cannot simultaneously be in boot camp. If one drops out of school at sixteen, one should have the option of doing military service at sixteen (or of being conscripted should a draft be in effect at the time).

If we have decided that one is not "adult" enough to consent to sex until one is eighteen, then one should not be able to drive or handle a weapon or be penalized as an adult until one is eighteen. If we decide that one is "adult" enough to hunt at the age of fourteen, then one should be able to drink or vote or gamble or view pornography or be tried as an adult at the same age.

Should we have different sets of laws or penalties for lawbreaking based on age?

If and only if they consistently conform to "majority" laws in relation to everthing else - no exceptions.

If we do have different laws, is it ever appropriate to charge youths with "adult" crimes? If so, when and why? Who decides?

No. Never.

Are these judgements being pursued fairly througout our legal system or are we discriminating against some juveniles due to the nature / victim of their particular crime?

These judgements are seldom pursued fairly, if ever. They are based on race, wealth, and sensationalized media coverage.

Is there a benefit to society in deciding that some juveniles are "adults" for some purpose (law-breaking) but not adults for other purposes (voting / drinking)?

None whatsoever.
deathalive
QUOTE
Should we have different sets of laws or penalties for lawbreaking based on age?

If we do have different laws, is it ever appropriate to charge youths with "adult" crimes? If so, when and why? Who decides?


First question. To an extent yes. If the person is under the age of 13 then wholeheartedly give them a juvenile penalty. But over 13 I think you have a good solid idea of what your doing and you comprehend the consequences of your actions i.e. you pull the trigger person on other end dies. You know what will happen and you anticipate doing it you deserve what any adult would get for doing the same thing. People are letting convicted cold-blooded killers off because they are not "adults". What decides if your an adult? I am 14 and have been told that I am more mature and grown-up than some adults that I know. If I had a gun and shot someone they would die, I know that, therefore I should get the needle like any other adult the did the same thing. I say cold-blooded a little harshly but I mean Lee Malvo isn't getting the death penalty becasue he is a "juvenile" although we all know that he KNEW EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS DOING when he pulled the trigger and ended more than 10 peoples lives. They had children, spouses and families that all were ripped apart because some punk with a rifle decided he could play God and kill them.
Google
overlandsailor
QUOTE(deathalive @ Mar 2 2005, 07:54 PM)
QUOTE
Should we have different sets of laws or penalties for lawbreaking based on age?

If we do have different laws, is it ever appropriate to charge youths with "adult" crimes? If so, when and why? Who decides?


First question. To an extent yes. If the person is under the age of 13 then wholeheartedly give them a juvenile penalty. But over 13 I think you have a good solid idea of what your doing and you comprehend the consequences of your actions...
*



If you believe that 14 (as in: over 13), that you have "a good solid idea of what you're doing and you comprehend the consequences of your actions" then do you feel the same in regards to drinking laws, driving laws, age of consent for sexual acts, military service, contract law, etc?


BoF
QUOTE(overlandsailor @ Mar 2 2005, 08:24 PM)
If you believe that 14 (as in: over 13), that you have "a good solid idea of what you're doing and you comprehend the consequences of your actions" then do you feel the same in regards to drinking laws, driving laws, age of consent for sexual acts, military service, contract law, etc?


I agree OLS. We have to have some uniform age were someone is either an adult or a minor, even if that age is arbitrary. Eighteen is as good as any. It is about the age that students graduate from high school.

You mentioned contracts. During my third year of teaching, someone sent one of my kids an unsolicited Master Card, I think it was called Master Charge then. The kid maxed it out, buying tires for his car, etc. He was telling about this in class and I said, "My but that was a windfall." His reply was "No, it was a blessing." He obviously didn't have to pay the credit card company. dry.gif In this case an adult acted irresponsibly in sending him the card without doing age verification.

Ultimatejoe
QUOTE
ut over 13 I think you have a good solid idea of what your doing and you comprehend the consequences of your actions i.e. you pull the trigger person on other end dies.


The question isn't just one of understanding. Believe it or not the teenaged brain is constructed differently than both the adult and the child. All the same physical parts are there to be sure, but the chemical and neurological components are varied. Emotionally, teenagers may be miles ahead of both their peers and adults, or they may not. Even those that are still have to cope with reality using a different set of tools than adults. You could argue that at age 12 you'd understand what it would mean to kill someone. I understood it a lot earlier than that. So why stop there if the A to B thought progression can be developed at a much earlier age?
Mrs. Pigpen
If we do have different laws, is it ever appropriate to charge youths with "adult" crimes? If so, when and why? Who decides? Yes. The state courts should consider each case individually depending on the crime. I think that age should be a mitigating, but not exonerating factor.

Are these judgements being pursued fairly througout our legal system or are we discriminating against some juveniles due to the nature / victim of their particular crime? I don't have enough knowledge to answer this one. I would expect there is some discrimination and unfairness inherent in a system run by human beings.

Is there a benefit to society in deciding that some juveniles are "adults" for some purpose (law-breaking) but not adults for other purposes (voting / drinking)?

Laws that determine the minimum age for legal adult activities are designed for the general population at large. Because there would be some obvious practical limitations to conducting individualized maturity tests for each driver, smoker, or drinker, a generally appropriate average age is selected. In a capital punishment case (and all other criminal cases), the individual is considered. I am not a death penalty advocate, but I agree with those who believe that this issue belongs with the individual states.
Ol Sarge
Should we have different sets of laws or penalties for lawbreaking based on age?

Of course but the laws should be very strict and distasteful to youth. The environment of the punishment and rehabilitation should differ but not the punishment.

If we do have different laws, is it ever appropriate to charge youths with "adult" crimes? If so, when and why? Who decides?

Yes, the penalty for personal or financial injury to people should be equal regardless of age. In the case of financial responsibility the debt could be optional to the parents.

Are these judgements being pursued fairly througout our legal system or are we discriminating against some juveniles due to the nature / victim of their particular crime?

Each state has a different set of laws so of course for juveniles and adult’s alike punishment is not fairly administered if “fair” is compared to other states.

Is there a benefit to society in deciding that some juveniles are "adults" for some purpose (law-breaking) but not adults for other purposes (voting / drinking)?

Yes! Youth are in a separate category because they are vulnerable or immature. The law that judge’s crime punishment less because of youth has an opposite effect, if a seventeen year old can be the “hit man” with lesser punishment then the mob will attack the vulnerability of the youth and the government will be the mob’s encouragement to do so. I do not believe in the death penalty, I believe the person who deserves the death penalty should be in such an austere environment he or she would pray for death.

This seems to be a secular-Christian argument. Secular folks state humans are born knowing right from wrong and not learned from a moral god or parent authority figure. So if you are secular then the child is responsible to science of evolution based on the belief right and wrong is instilled through evolution. If you are Christian then the child has violated a moral law of god and in either event in society the child must be held accountable for their actions be the actions base on scientific origin or learned behavior the kid is wrong in the eyes of society. Should the society teach the laws? Yes, and they did in public schools until the late 1940’s and it was common knowledge of common law.
deathalive
QUOTE(overlandsailor @ Mar 2 2005, 09:24 PM)
QUOTE(deathalive @ Mar 2 2005, 07:54 PM)
QUOTE
Should we have different sets of laws or penalties for lawbreaking based on age?

If we do have different laws, is it ever appropriate to charge youths with "adult" crimes? If so, when and why? Who decides?


First question. To an extent yes. If the person is under the age of 13 then wholeheartedly give them a juvenile penalty. But over 13 I think you have a good solid idea of what your doing and you comprehend the consequences of your actions...
*



If you believe that 14 (as in: over 13), that you have "a good solid idea of what you're doing and you comprehend the consequences of your actions" then do you feel the same in regards to drinking laws, driving laws, age of consent for sexual acts, military service, contract law, etc?
*



Not at all. There is a difference in the neurological and physical limits a teenager has. It as been proven scientifically that people under 21 cannot handle the physical consequences of drinking alcohol. However you understand death and you understand that what you are doing is wrong and there are other alternatives to settling the issue but you still choose to pull the trigger. Out in the "sticks", as my country raised mother so loveingly recalls where she was raised, you learned to drive when you could sit and see over the wheel while your legs reached the pedals. So I think that driving is a privledge not a right and that you need to be properly evaluated when you think that you can drive and if you pass you drive. As to the military service, if I could I would sign up for the marines right now, but, I can't because it has been proven that at my age your body is not ready for the physical and psychological rigors of the military training and service alike. Onto the sex issue. An average woman has the physical ability to reproduce by age 11. But they don't know the full consequence of their having sex. They are still kids and are very easily persuaded by the right people. As you can see their is a difference physical and psychological maturity makeing certain laws required and others there merley for the protection of the indivdual that may possibly be victimized if laws stated otherwise(rape of girls who are not legal).
deathalive
QUOTE(Ultimatejoe @ Mar 2 2005, 10:36 PM)
QUOTE
ut over 13 I think you have a good solid idea of what your doing and you comprehend the consequences of your actions i.e. you pull the trigger person on other end dies.


The question isn't just one of understanding. Believe it or not the teenaged brain is constructed differently than both the adult and the child. All the same physical parts are there to be sure, but the chemical and neurological components are varied. Emotionally, teenagers may be miles ahead of both their peers and adults, or they may not. Even those that are still have to cope with reality using a different set of tools than adults. You could argue that at age 12 you'd understand what it would mean to kill someone. I understood it a lot earlier than that. So why stop there if the A to B thought progression can be developed at a much earlier age?
*



I (being a teenager) realize that we are very different than adults and children. I myself understood death and killing at age 7 but I did not understand what would happen if I got caught. People know what they are doing they just do not understand what consequence awaits them from the law. It is true that we have emotional high and lows that stretch from adult to child, it is part of growing up and with those emotions comes a different level of maturity. To answer your question, if a child commits a crime they do it because they believe that it will solve a problem they look at their problem getting solved and not at what will happen after they solve it. Just because you understand death at an early age that does not mean that you understand the judicial consequences. However at age 14 if you don't know that killing someone will get you in jail or worse then you either have a mental disorder or need extreme psychological help.
Mutzor
Before i answer the question given by the starter of said topic i'd like to address the people who are comparing driving and having sex to taking a life. I know i may sound sentimental but i really dont think that having sex at the age of 13(i see it as wrong but how are you going to stop it) and taking a human life.

Now then...
Should we have different sets of laws or penalties for lawbreaking based on age?

Well yes obviously we should, im 17 i dont drink and i dont do drugs, ive thought about the military and i already drive a car. But most teenagers today see alcohol as sort of a rush, its illegal it makes me feel good, and i can probably get away with it. But the fact still stands no matter how many laws you pass or people you punish people are going to try and get away with it. But then you also have to take into the fact that if the law against drinking wasnt in effect that the danger would be gone and it wouldnt seem like the cool thing to do. (Apologies for rambling and probably not getting my point accross im tired and school is boring)

If we do have different laws, is it ever appropriate to charge youths with "adult" crimes? If so, when and why? Who decides?
The only time i can see charging a youth with and adult crime is murder. A life cant be brought back, they took it. And lets face it our country is pretty lenient on killers nowadays from what ive seen. If you kill a person here you may only spend 10-60 years at worst life, or the death sentence, barring life imprisonment and the death sentence that person took a whole persons life away while as your reprimand you spent 10-60 years in jail with still a possible 1/2 to 1/3 of your life left.
Are these judgements being pursued fairly througout our legal system or are we discriminating against some juveniles due to the nature / victim of their particular crime?

Fairness does seem to be a problem, most of the time jury's and courts have a hard time convicting minors of heinous crimes because they wouldnt want to make themselves feel bad, of on the other hand there are jury's out there that say "Let's make an example out of this kid." and use it as an excuse to set said example for other kids out there so maybe they dont make the same mistake. Now i dont know teens nowadays, oh wait nvm, but most teenagers in this day and age arent going to bend under a threat, if anything its an encouragement.

Is there a benefit to society in deciding that some juveniles are "adults" for some purpose (law-breaking) but not adults for other purposes (voting / drinking)?

Going back to the rush of breaking the law and hoping to not get caught doing said deed, the laws are there to prohibit drinking but I've always believed that if the laws werent there banning things, teens wont feel the need to try it. Its all about they were told not to so they are going to do it, whether or not they know its bad. I feel that voting should be kept to the 18+ of the population or even raised because lets face it, society today is more interested in michael jacksons cold than whats happeneing in the world, Ex. The tsunami ran its 2 weeks then right away the celebrities show up and the tsunami is thrown to the side, ill bet that less than 1/10 of the population know anything about baby 81. Our country just isnt as informed as we should be and thats the reason most people hate us anyways
deathalive
QUOTE
If we do have different laws, is it ever appropriate to charge youths with "adult" crimes? If so, when and why? Who decides?
The only time i can see charging a youth with and adult crime is murder. A life cant be brought back, they took it. And lets face it our country is pretty lenient on killers nowadays from what ive seen. If you kill a person here you may only spend 10-60 years at worst life, or the death sentence, barring life imprisonment and the death sentence that person took a whole persons life away while as your reprimand you spent 10-60 years in jail with still a possible 1/2 to 1/3 of your life left.


This is the biggest problem with our judicial system: Killers still get out. What is worse is that they have spent the best years of their life getting beaten and raped by life time or death row prisoners. So all that anger builds from the prison time by the time they are out it doesn't take much to set them off. Down here we recently had a woman that beat her child's head into a bookcase until she stopped crying the child died right after she turned 4. That woman deserves more than the needle she deserves the chair. Now if that had been a teenager( who have mood swings and are prone to anger) I would still say to put the kid in the chair you beat a child until she stopped crying which can't happen because your beating the child halfway to death. Now if a juvenile did it they get off to some juvenile facility until they turn 18 or 21 (I can't remember) and their case is reassesed and the option for them to parole and beat another kid is presented. We need to put them in the chair or on the slab right after they commit the crime, especially if they kill a kid.
BoF
Is there a benefit to society in deciding that some juveniles are "adults" for some purpose (law-breaking) but not adults for other purposes (voting / drinking)?

Deciding when a juvenile is an adult is a difficult proposition. There are a number of ways people mature. One of those is mental. Mental age is attained by multiplying chronological age by IQ. Hence, a 12 year old with an average 100 IQ approximates a 12 year old mentally. Another 12 year old with an IQ of 150 is more like an 18-year-old. One with a 70 IQ will be something like an 8-year-old. Keep in mind that these are approximations, but they get you in the stadium door. Further development of lower IQ people is arrested or peaks at some point. A person with a 70 IQ will not have the mental age of a 35-year-old person when he/she reaches 50.

Mental age is not all of the equation. Social and emotional as well as a number of other factors are just as important as the mental age.

Sorting out who is an “adult” on a case-by-case basis is a subjective proposition susceptible to error. For that reason I prefer a set age. As former Texas House Speaker Gib Lewis used to say, “My feet aren’t set in concrete on this” but 18 sounds good to me.

I got my driver’s license on my 16th birthday. I think driver’s licenses should be granted a little earlier, but on a probationary basis. If anyone thinks there’s consistency in anything, be advised of a couple of things.

1. Although Texas has executed the most under age offenders and had the largest number on death row, the drinking age is 21.

2. I don’t know about the practice in other states, but here’s one that’s angered me ever since I started driving. Texas has some interesting laws regarding “youthful” drivers. A female under 21 pays a higher than standard rates. Worse a male pays the surcharge until he is 25. If a female has a baby, then her rates go down to standard. If a male fathers a baby, but isn’t married, his rates remain the some. If he marries, the rates go down, but not to standard. I am not trying to start a male vs. female argument here. Both feel the brunt of higher rates—but more so for males. I am suggesting that the insurance industry extends the period of being “underage” for reasons related only to profit. Where’s the outrage? Should rates for youthful drivers be based on individual performance or actuarial tables?

Note: I got this information this morning from the State Farm agent I’ve used since I was a kid. Edited to add. I actually got this info this afternoon. I usuall go to bed sometime between 2:00 and 5:00 a.m. and get up around noon, so it still "feels" like morning. tongue.gif
overlandsailor
QUOTE(deathalive @ Mar 3 2005, 01:32 PM)
This is the biggest problem with our judicial system: Killers still get out....Now if a juvenile did it they get off to some juvenile facility until they turn 18 or 21 (I can't remember) and their case is reassesed and the option for them to parole and beat another kid is presented. We need to put them in the chair or on the slab right after they commit the crime, especially if they kill a kid.
*



You will not get an argument from me that the Justice system, both adult and Juvenile needs an overhaul and serious reforms. However, I simply do not see the answer being to kill the offending child, rather then place them in prison for life. Life imprisonment even costs less (as has been referenced in several older topics on the site). It costs anywhere from and additional 50% to 100% to house someone on death row through to their sentence being applied, as it does to house the same person in the general population for the rest of their natural life.

Is prison a bad environment, absolutely, but it is supposed to be. So prison are different then others, and some are darn near hotels (but they are in the minority).

We have crime of passion laws for adults. If overcome by an emotional issue, like coming home to find your spouse in bed with someone else you generally get a lighter sentence then if you walked up to your spouse in the backyard and took them out without provocation. Teenagers, are nearly nothing but emotions, mood swings, and hormone induced confusion. I see no reason not to take this into account when considering if the ultimate penalty should apply.


QUOTE(BoF @ Mar 3 2005, 04:10 PM)
2. I don’t know about the practice in other states, but here’s one that’s angered me ever since I started driving. Texas has some interesting laws regarding “youthful” drivers. A female under 21 pays a higher than standard rates. Worse a male pays the surcharge until he is 25. If a female has a baby, then her rates go down to standard. If a male fathers a baby, but isn’t married, his rates remain the some. If he marries, the rates go down, but not to standard. I am not trying to start a male vs. female argument here. Both feel the brunt of higher rates—but more so for males. I am suggesting that the insurance industry extends the period of being “underage” for reasons related only to profit. Where’s the outrage? Should rates for youthful drivers be based on individual performance or actuarial tables?
*




OK, just a side note here. These are not laws, (at least not anywhere I have lived hmmm.gif ), they are insurance company standards. They are based of accident statistics and who was at fault in the accidents. It gets better though, call your insurance company and ask for a quote of a Yellow Buick Regal 4 Door, then ask for a quote on the same car in Red. Red generally pays more. Then ask for a quote on the same car but as a coupe. 2 Doors pay more then four generally. This is all based on accident statistics. Unless you want us all to pay higer rates to cover the "break" you are suggesting for kids, then you will have to go with the very long standing tradition of treating everyone with insurance based on "their group's" showing on those "actuarial tables".
BoF
QUOTE
Texas law requires you to have auto liability insurance, and if you still owe money on your car, your lender requires that you also carry collision and comprehensive coverage. Auto insurance pays for damages, injuries, and other losses specifically covered by your policy. Read your policy carefully to know exactly what it covers. Pay special attention to the exclusions section, which lists the things your policy doesn´t cover. The front page of your policy is called the declarations page. It contains useful information such as the exact name of your insurance company, your policy number, and the amount of each of your coverages and deductibles.

<snip>
Companies may use a number of criteria to establish your individual premium. These include:
Your age and, for younger drivers, your marital status. Male drivers under 25 and unmarried women under 21 have the highest rates. Drivers over 50 may get discounts.


http://www.tdi.state.tx.us/consumer/consum86.html

OLS I think you are quibbling a bit here. You have to remember that Texas does everything differently. As Molly Ivins might caution you, don’t try to make any sense of it. I just talked to a woman from the Texas Department of Insurance. She said that the Texas Department of Public safety puts a code on a driver’s license based on age, sex and other factors. When one goes to purchase auto insurance the company writes the policy based on the code. Even if it is a “rule” it’s one that is supplied by DPS (a state agency) and the insurance companies benefit from it.

My purpose in this illustration is that the DPS coding and insurance companies do not consider people on an individual basis, but essentially extend adolescence to 21 for females and 25 for males. If one isn’t mature enough to get standard insurance based on a driving record until 21 or 25, why should we execute someone who is 17 based on individual characteristics?
overlandsailor
QUOTE(BoF @ Mar 3 2005, 05:38 PM)
OLS I think you are quibbling a bit here...the Texas Department of Public safety puts a code on a driver’s license based on age, sex and other factors. When one goes to purchase auto insurance the company writes the policy based on the code. Even if it is a “rule” it’s one that is supplied by DPS (a state agency) and the insurance companies benefit from it.


It is a "quibble" and nothing more. And all states handle things their own way, to a point. I was just trying to point out that it is the procedures of the Insurance companies, not the law, that determines a higher rate for youthful drivers.

QUOTE
My purpose in this illustration is that the DPS coding and insurance companies do not consider people on an individual basis, but essentially extend adolescence to 21 for females and 25 for males. If one isn’t mature enough to get standard insurance based on a driving record until 21 or 25, why should we execute someone who is 17 based on individual characteristics.
*



An excellent point. thumbsup.gif
Wertz
QUOTE(Ol Sarge @ Mar 2 2005, 11:10 PM)
This seems to be a secular-Christian argument.  Secular folks state humans are born knowing right from wrong and not learned from a moral god or parent authority figure. So if you are secular then the child is responsible to science of evolution based on the belief right and wrong is instilled through evolution.  If you are Christian then the child has violated a moral law of god and in either event in society the child must be held accountable for their actions be the actions base on scientific origin or learned behavior the kid is wrong in the eyes of society. Should the society teach the laws?  Yes, and they did in public schools until the late 1940’s and it was common knowledge of common law.
*

I guess I missed this chapter in the Secularist's Handbook. Do you have any class of a source for this, O| Sarge? This secularist, for example, believes that we are born with certain innate biological imperatives (having sex is good, not having sex is bad), but that the majority of our societal sense of "right" and "wrong" is, indeed, learned (otherwise, we would never have embraced so absurd and unnatural a concept as human monogamy). Much of this learned "moral behavior" is based on what is good for a society as a whole or on empathy with others - and it doesn't take a degree in theology to feel that taking other human lives is not a good thing. And it saddens me to think that you are arguing that some people would never even conceive of killing other people as being "wrong" if it didn't say so in the Bible.

In my experience, secularists have a wildly diverse approach to morality and ethics and their origins. I could claim that it is the more religious types who have but one rigid set of beliefs based on, well, nothing really (aside from what some authority figure has told them is a matter of "faith"). But it is also my experience that even the most devout fundamentalists have a diversity of beliefs on the nature and origin of a moral sense - indeed, many of them believe that we are born with a "God-given" sense of "right" and "wrong" and that various religious teachings merely codify that morality.

So I am not going to traffic in stereotypes. I wish you could do the same. But, if nothing else, please stop telling me what I believe. Thanks. thumbsup.gif

Uh, in other words, this is decidedly not "a secular-Christian argument", though I'm sure we all appreciate your attempt at divisiveness.
deathalive
QUOTE
Uh, in other words, this is decidedly not "a secular-Christian argument", though I'm sure we all appreciate your attempt at divisiveness


Too true. This is one of the best points I've seen made on this thread. thumbsup.gif

People are trying to turn this into a secular-christian argument to have a reason to protest the execution of minors. Without religion they don't have any real reason to protest and no lawful reason either. I have seen teachers that teach law as well as government and economics that all agree that the "juvenile" offender system is both stupid as well as restrictive to the enforcement of the law. My law teacher has stated repeatedly that there is no way to determine whether or not you are juvenile or adult. It differs everyone is individual and they are all different. I personally believe that kids need to be taught a lesson and we need to treat capital crimes and repeat offenders as adults. No more juvenile protection for kids that make wrong choices. As tough as that may sound I don't want to leave this country in the hands of people who get off easy because they are deemed juvenile. mad.gif
concerro
QUOTE(deathalive @ Mar 10 2005, 11:24 AM)
QUOTE
Uh, in other words, this is decidedly not "a secular-Christian argument", though I'm sure we all appreciate your attempt at divisiveness


Too true. This is one of the best points I've seen made on this thread. thumbsup.gif

People are trying to turn this into a secular-christian argument to have a reason to protest the execution of minors. Without religion they don't have any real reason to protest and no lawful reason either. I have seen teachers that teach law as well as government and economics that all agree that the "juvenile" offender system is both stupid as well as restrictive to the enforcement of the law. My law teacher has stated repeatedly that there is no way to determine whether or not you are juvenile or adult. It differs everyone is individual and they are all different. I personally believe that kids need to be taught a lesson and we need to treat capital crimes and repeat offenders as adults. No more juvenile protection for kids that make wrong choices. As tough as that may sound I don't want to leave this country in the hands of people who get off easy because they are deemed juvenile. mad.gif
*


It is true that it is hard to tell an adult from someone who is not. Some people grow up a lot faster than others. I was more mature than some people who wer past 20 when I was only 14. Maturity is not enough by itself. Experience is a factor also. By experience I mean the things we have been through. If you are going to call everyone an adult then give everyone the same rights. Either someone is an adult or not an adult.
deathalive
QUOTE(concerro @ Mar 9 2005, 10:27 PM)
QUOTE(deathalive @ Mar 10 2005, 11:24 AM)
QUOTE
Uh, in other words, this is decidedly not "a secular-Christian argument", though I'm sure we all appreciate your attempt at divisiveness


Too true. This is one of the best points I've seen made on this thread. thumbsup.gif

People are trying to turn this into a secular-christian argument to have a reason to protest the execution of minors. Without religion they don't have any real reason to protest and no lawful reason either. I have seen teachers that teach law as well as government and economics that all agree that the "juvenile" offender system is both stupid as well as restrictive to the enforcement of the law. My law teacher has stated repeatedly that there is no way to determine whether or not you are juvenile or adult. It differs everyone is individual and they are all different. I personally believe that kids need to be taught a lesson and we need to treat capital crimes and repeat offenders as adults. No more juvenile protection for kids that make wrong choices. As tough as that may sound I don't want to leave this country in the hands of people who get off easy because they are deemed juvenile. mad.gif
*


It is true that it is hard to tell an adult from someone who is not. Some people grow up a lot faster than others. I was more mature than some people who wer past 20 when I was only 14. Maturity is not enough by itself. Experience is a factor also. By experience I mean the things we have been through. If you are going to call everyone an adult then give everyone the same rights. Either someone is an adult or not an adult.
*



I agree whole heartedly. I myself being 14 feel that I am much more mature than people in their 20's and even older. Society as a whole must learn to accept that as we expose our children to more and more questionable content that we must also expect them to be more mature and to take what punishment that an adult would. We are putting them in an adult enviroment making them feel as if they can do what adults do. To counter this we need to ensure that with that adult enviroment must come not only adult responsibilities but adult consequences as well; do we not? hmmm.gif
ALadyLikeNoOther
There was a recent article/report? put out by the National Institute of Health which basically said that a person's brain does not fully mature until they at the age of 25. I heard about the article on a talk radio show and did a search on it. Risk taking was considered a major factor in determining maturity.

I do not think that children should be tried as adults . . .
skatermom1993
QUOTE(carlitoswhey @ Feb 28 2005, 07:21 PM)
It seems to me that every time a young person commits a crime, particularly a high-profile crime, you can expect to hear these words in the news coverage - "prosecutors are considering charging him as an adult."  I am not a legal expert, but this always makes me think twice.

Here are some examples randomly culled from the news, where sometimes we do and sometimes we don't charge juvenile offenders as adults.

Jury rejects killer boy's Zoloft defense
QUOTE
CHARLESTON, S.C. — A 15-year-old boy who claimed the antidepressant Zoloft drove him to kill his grandparents and burn their house down was found guilty of murder Tuesday and sentenced to 30 years in prison.  The jury took six hours to reject Christopher Pittman's claim that he was "involuntarily intoxicated" by the drug and could not be held responsible for the crime.

The case was one of the first of its kind to come to trial in the United States since the government began taking a close look at the dangers of antidepressant use among teenagers.

Pittman was 12 in 2001 when he killed his grandparents, Joe Pittman, 66, and Joy Pittman, 62, with a pump-action shotgun as they slept in their rural home, then torched their house and drove off in their car. He was charged as an adult.


Teen Put in Juvenile Custody in Killing
QUOTE
Samantha S. Staycoff, the 17-year-old Lusby girl charged in October with killing her 3-month-old baby by stuffing a pair of socks into his mouth, acknowledged her involvement in the infant's death last week and was placed in the custody of state juvenile authorities Thursday.
...
Staycoff, a former Patuxent High School senior, initially was charged as an adult and had been facing a combined maximum of 60 years in prison if she had been convicted of the criminal charges against her -- first-degree child abuse and second-degree murder.


Teen, alleged mastermind in drug ring, to be prosecuted as adult
QUOTE
FLAGSTAFF - A teenager accused of being the mastermind behind a marijuana sales ring targeting at least three Flagstaff schools has been charged as an adult.

Seventeen-year-old Matthew French is charged with a number of drug and weapons offenses.


Questions for debate:

Should we have different sets of laws or penalties for lawbreaking based on age?
[FONT=Arial]

If we do have different laws, is it ever appropriate to charge youths with "adult" crimes? If so, when and why? Who decides?

Are these judgements being pursued fairly througout our legal system or are we discriminating against some juveniles due to the nature / victim of their particular crime?

Is there a benefit to society in deciding that some juveniles are "adults" for some purpose (law-breaking) but not adults for other purposes (voting / drinking)?
*



There is a reason why the definition of an adult and a juvenile are different, because they are.
The Child's mind thinks differently than that of an adults, and their hormones are completely different. I feel the judicial system may justify a minor being tried as an adult could be a deterrance in commiting the crime. There is no confirmed proof that it works as a deterrant. Crime is comitted in a questionable state of mind; the mind is not thinking sanely or in a natural state. It could be due to alcohol or drugs, or simply and mostly on adrenaline, hence a crime of passion. This individual does not consider thinking he may be tried as an adult before he commits the crime. It's simply not an issue.
This government seems hypicritical by regulationing some issues such as voting, drinking, and driving requirments by requiring individuals to first reach a certain age. A juvenile is a juvenile not an adult plain and simple!
Some other concerns to ponder could be the pressures on children today, they are not the same as prior years. Times have changed, as each generation can identify with and take into consideration. Minors hormones are completely different from those of adults, including the way the brain functions and the chemicals that are produced.
A fact to be understood is that nobody's perfect we all make mistakes, and that is what makes us human. Unfortunately there is no conceivable way to ensure our judicial system is flawless, because it is ran by humans. How can you honestly, beyond a reasonable doubt, judge another with absolute certainty, ecspecially a child and determine their fate.
I am definately not saying that because they are young, they're innocent. I feel that the law has previously tried individuals under 18 as minors for a reason. That reason being that they are infact minors, not adults! These kids are reaching out and no one is listening. Let's go to the main source of the problems, and try actually solving before it gets this far. Sounds as though some parents may need to be taught some parenting skills. This is a totally different argument so I will stop now.
This is a simplified version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Invision Power Board © 2001-2014 Invision Power Services, Inc.