Custom «The Criminal Is a Child» Essay Paper
A variety of social, political, and economic problems of the U.S. have combined and transformed into unfavorable traits of contemporary children and teenagers. Young people who spend most of their time in front of the TV where scenes of crimes and violence are depicted follow such destructive behaviors even if their parents try to encourage positive behaviors. As a result, the community has faced a rising wave of crimes committed by children. This work is aimed at discussing this topic and showing that punishing children, as well as punishing a particular child will not solve the problem.
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Children who committed crimes should not be punished similarly to adults because it does not fulfil the aims of criminal justice. According to the Human Rights Watch (2005), “There are at least 2,225 child offenders serving life without parole sentences in U.S. prisons for crimes committed before they were age 18.” The statistics shows that among the criminals who are now adults 16 percent were aged 13-15 at the time they committed crimes. 59 percent of them were sentenced to life without parole for their first-ever criminal conviction (Human Rights Watch, 2005). The laws of forty-two states allow sentencing children to serving life sentence without parole. Once current situation concerning children-criminals is analyzed, it is worth discussing the role of the criminal justice system in the U.S. In general, functions of the criminal justice may be divided into two dimensions: punishing criminals and preventing future crimes in order to protect citizens. The ones who are guilty should undeniably be punished according to the criminal law; however, punishment should not be muddled up with revenge. It is impossible to compensate harm caused by children-criminals and to turn back time. Nevertheless, if children are sentenced to life without parole in an American prison, negative consequences of their conduct wil be doubled. Criminal justice, which aims to re-rear criminals and prevent similar crimes, will not reach its purposes in the current situation: via sentencing children as adults, children’s lives will be destroyed in prisons. After they spend their sentence in prison, they will have to live in another world, in which it will be difficult for them to find their place.
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Due to a number of severe problems in the U.S., children should not be considered as average criminals because they frequently become victims of the contemporary regime. As it has been stated above, the contemporary American society is full of complicated social, economic, and political problems, which are the reasons of high crime rates among children and adults. According to Siegel and Welsh (2013), many children and teenagers are at risk of indulging in antisocial and destructive behaviors, such as alcohol use, precocious sexuality, and drug abuse. The most relevant problems facing the American youth revolve around five issues: health and mortality, poverty, family, substandard living conditions, and inadequate education (Siegel & Welsh, 2013). A child who has been brought up in a poor one-parent family without love and care can easily join criminal gangs or start taking drugs. A child who witnesses violence in the street, at home, and in the television sooner or later will follow such behavior. Education system, which is vital for children at risk, does not always fulfill its functions and fails to provide low-income students with appropriate education: college education is rather expensive, while some children do not attend school at al. As a result, children and teenagers at risk who need adults’ care and assistance feel abounded and betrayed: the society does not want to help them. Within such regime, it is not fair to punish severely children who experience violence and crimes in the street, at school, at home, and in television.
It is necessary to weight the moral aspect of the issue: whether it is moral to punish people who did not realize consequences of their conduct and who are not mature enough to bear responsibility. First of all, it is not worth generalizing all children-criminals: the ones who committed a crime at the age of 10 years old should be differentiated from the ones who committed a crime at the age of 17. The matter is that the level of consciousness of both categories of criminals significantly varies. However, some children may be extremely cruel and conscious at 10 years old as well. Therefore, it is necessary to ‘measure’ their consciousness and to identify their intentions. In order to avoid inappropriate sentences for children-criminals, one should view each case in particular: whether the crime was well-organized by the offender and whether he or she realized his/her responsibility and consequences. Psychological tests are necessary for diagnostics of criminals, as many of them suffer from mental illnesses or disorders. Mentally ill children who committed severe crimes should be put into a specialized hospital, in which he/she will be cured and re-educated. It is supposed that children who demonstrated extreme cruelty should be put into so-called prisons where they will receive psychological assistance and education in accordance with the severity of crime.
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In conclusion, the issue of children-criminals status is rather complicated as it embraces not only a judicial, but also a moral side of the problem. Children who commit crimes are the result of the contemporary social, political, and economic problems that have been created by adults. Children who are frequently victims of the current socio-cultural situation should not be sentenced to life without parole and to similar punishments, which do not involve reeducation and a second chance.
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