Should we punish all juvenile criminals like adults?

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Quenjule Slaven.

Samoan youth throughout years have been so well-mannered that there was an unlikelihood of any sort of crime sprouting up. 

But just last year, youth gangs were corrupting the streets of Apia.

This gang-related violence has been a nuisance that plagues our country, with the rising crimes having few consequences for the perpetrators’ actions. 

This made me think if teens today start committing heinous crimes because it may be easy to get away with, should they be tried as adults to ensure justice is served?

Absolutely, well probably not with lesser crimes committed but crimes like murder and rape are adult crimes. 

But then again, is there really such a thing as an adult crime?

When it comes to trying teenagers in court as adults, some say stop trying them as adults and try them as juveniles, even when they commit adult crimes.  

I truly believe everyone should be held justifiable for their actions and tried as adults. 

Put yourself in the victim’s family position. If your family member was killed (go on and visualize it), how would you feel and how would you want the murderer punished? 

How would you feel if you never got to say or see your loved ones again while the killer served only a short, lenient sentence because he or she was a teenager?

Studies have shown that teens are not fully mature meaning their brains are still developing until the age of 23.  As a result they should be tried as juveniles. I believe teenagers are mature enough to be accountable for making the choice not to break the law, so they should receive a full sentence that fits the severity of any crime.

Some people say that teens learn their bad behaviour of violence, gang, drugs and alcohol from their family.

Children should learn from their parent’s mistakes. Difference in right and wrong based on some studies, suggest we inherit morals at birth.

I am a teenager and I know teens have the ability to decipher between right from wrong. 

I also think second chances for teenagers after breaking the law are important.  They can have new identities to continue to live their lives, after of course they serve their full sentencing. 

There are plenty of thoughts to describe the practice of putting juveniles through the adult justice system, but it really is fair. 

Keep in mind the victim and their families might never get a second chance and are left to suffer. It’s really a life sentence for them. 

This is why we should try and always make the right choice at any age.  One mistake can ruin lives forever.

Okay, so should we put teens in adult prison?  I do think that teens are capable of learning from their mistakes and they can be rehabilitated. Although, putting teens in adult prison will probably make things worse for them. 

They will be harassed with more abuse from the older inmates who are stronger and much more experienced.

Eventually, they may come out of the system extremely dangerous and damaged from hanging around with very bad adults. 

The new prison opening in May should have a juvenile facility for teens to take full responsibilities for the events of their crime. With the 550 acres at Tanumalala, there is so much room for a juvenile prison for rehabilitation. 

These rehabilitation places have a purpose in our society to help kids if their families have failed them.  With the increase of crime in Samoa committed by youths today and probably the near future, it’s worth the investment.

What else can we do for our juveniles as the crime rate increases?        

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