The percentage of murders committed by teenagers has increased exponentially. That having been said it brings forth the question regarding the course of action to be taken. Many state laws are neither black nor white where juvenile offenders are concerned. Should teen killers be tried as adults, or should they be treated as juveniles?
This question has no concise answer. Many factors play into the decision as to whether or not teen killers should be tried as adults. Factors that must be considered by the prosecution include the nature of the crime and the state’s law pertaining to juveniles. Whether or not the crime was premeditated as well as crimes previously committed by the defendant can sway the decision.
There has been research conducted saying that teens cannot control their impulses. This information has been central to the debate as to whether or not teen killers should be tried as adults. However, this information has not necessarily helped nor hindered the debate. Teens that have perpetrated brutal killings continue to be tried as adults. However, some states have considered raising the age in which a teen killer can be tried as an adult.
The Country’s penal system as we all know has experienced overcrowding for quite some time. These teen killers that have been tried as adults and are serving life sentences are indeed part of this population. Though it is not a major percentage, it is a percentage that could be prevented. State prisons, including those found in Pennsylvania, would actually benefit if they lightened their statutes. Teen offenders create about one fifth of the prison population. States with the highest amount of teens behind bars include Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Michigan.
Is it morally right to incarcerate these juvenile defenders for the entirety of their lives without the chance of parole? Should teen killers that have been tried as adults be held accountable for crimes committed as, let’s face it – children? Bearing this in mind, States including Colorado have actually implemented clemency boards for just such cases. These boards have been established to allow the possibility for these juveniles to receive another chance at life. This has proven to be a heated proposition for families that have lost family members to teen killers that have been tried as adults. These families deserve justice and allowing their killers the option for parole is insulting. However, this can be looked at from another vantage point as well….the financial and moral burden brought forth by the teen killer.
Despite what side you are on, the debate whether teen killers should be treated as adults is a heated one. There are many factors that can weigh in. Money, morality, Constitutional rights, human needs, and law all make an appearance. It is important regardless of what side of the fence you fall on to keep in mind that justice is blind. These teen killers, despite their age are just that – killers. There is a price to pay for taking the life of another human being. But the question remains…should teen killers be tried as adults? You decide.