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Should juveniles be put into adult prisons?

 

Here in California, children as young as 14 can be tried as an adult depending on the circumstances. Juveniles could end up in the adult court system for violent crimes, such as murder, or if they were convicted of a crime in the past. If convicted, they could end up being sentenced to an adult prison. In most cases, this is not necessarily the best way to deal with a young offender.

Teenagers who are in adult prisons are at an increased risk of being sexually assaulted when compared to being held in a juvenile facility. Furthermore, the suicide rate among these incarcerated teens is also higher. Teenagers are still developing and discovering who they are, and spending a significant number of their formative years in an adult prison often does not help them upon release — if they have the option of being released at all. Some juveniles receive life sentences and will never have the opportunity to live a normal life.

 

Few would say that a child who commits a violent crime should not face some sort of consequences. However, keeping teenagers out of adult correctional facilities should be a priority for everyone involved. Many children are victims of abuse from family, friends and others in their communities. They may grow up in poverty and be neglected by their families. They could then lash out in the only way they know how. All of these factors should be taken into consideration before everyone gives up on them.

The criminal justice system might be the last opportunity to help children who are exhibiting violent tendencies and are accused of committing violent crimes. If a child is facing the possibility of being tried and sentenced as an adult, he or she needs an attorney who will be an advocate and fight for that teenager’s right to have a chance at rehabilitation. Like other juveniles around the country, those here in California might not be equipped mentally and emotionally to deal with their lives “on the outside,” and putting them into prisons with adult offenders is not going to help.

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