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Jake Carnes

Period 4


Stay on Point

American: A byword for describing the intellectual might of citizens of a land

second-to-none, those who are replete with civil rights and liberties. Yet within this land

of abundance and many promises lands a problem of conflict for the youth of America,

the juvenile justice system. The American Juvenile Justice System does not imply the

use of rehabilitation to the extent that is required, this can be solved by implementing

the use of rehabilitation into programs and modifying how juvenile sentences are set for

varying crimes.

Today we are witness to criminal defendants- facing life sentences without

parole- who cannot shave, still play with fire trucks and love to act out scenes from

television or video games. As quoted from the article Kids Are Kids- Until They

Commit Crimes and states the dilemma that American contemporary society as a

whole is facing with youths and juvenile justice. Adolescents are no doubt getting

younger as time progresses, and preventing a crime from occurring in the first place by

communities working together to create more positive home and social lives for children

as they become teens is essential. Getting kids to make friends and engage in after

school programs will severely debunk the amount of time kids spend in solidarity

watching graphic television shows or playing violent video games.

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However as the headlines are clearing stating, many pre-teens and teens dont

face any sort of problem until it is already too late and light isnt shed on them until

theyre staring down the barrel of a long sentence. People such as Jennifer Jenkins, the

author of On Punishment and Teen Killers do believe that juveniles deserve long

sentences for violent crimes with no concise motive such as the one that happened to

her sister and her sisters husband. She begged for the life of her unborn child as he

shot her about his thrill kill that he just wanted to see what if felt like to shoot

someone. Jenkins certainly presents a valid argument as the shooter shouldnt be

allowed to walk away to commit other crimes, however that defendant is firstly a human

being who needs to be evaluated and treated as such even behind prison walls. This is

not an argument about changing the duration of the sentences that juvenile offenders

receive, it is how they serve them.

All four articles in this juvenile justice unit mention about how teens brains are

anatomically different and less mature in development than an adult's. The most

constructively stated is one in Startling Finds on Teenage Brains by Paul Thompson.

Thompson clearly outlines the following brain cells and connections are only being lost

in the areas controlling impulses, risk-taking and self control which inhibit our violent

passions, rash actions and regulate our emotions are vastly immature throughout the

teenage years. Since these finds are true and all sides of the issue agree that this is a

substantial contributing factor, then why arent the juvenile justice system and the

programs within it trying to help their inmates who are inevitably going through this help

them go through it? Giving inmates the proper anger management skills and providing

them with the responsibility to assess situations to see if the cons outweigh the pros
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must be the very hallmark of corrections, not warehousing people until theyre eighteen

in the name of warehousing. Additionally giving them the ability to see that they can

have both productive and constructive lives in prison will reduce the risk of each

inmate's violent behavior from becoming a permanent part of their psychological profile

that will stay with them until the streets. Lastly giving inmates the counseling on how

they got to prison and not just dealing with it will allow these teenagers to come to grips

with their past and start thinking about their futures rather than being stuck in what

already happened.

Weve created this image that teenagers are something to be feared states Dan

Macallair in the article Kids Are Kids- Until They Commit Crimes. This image simply

doesnt have to be the case and giving adolescents the proper rehabilitation while

theyre incarcerated will switch the driving question from how did I go so wrong, to how

can I get back to make it right? Since after all 98% of all peoples incarcerated will get

out someday, its just how we want them to come out.

Works Cited:
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Lundstrom, Majie. Sacramento Bee. Kids Are Kids- Until They Commit Crimes.

March 1, 2001

Thompson, Paul. Sacramento Bee. Startling Finds on Teenage Brains. May 25,


Jenkins, Jennifer. Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. On Punishment and

Teen Killers. August 2, 2011