Has Teen Punishment Gone Too Far

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Raymond G. Mares
Ms. Cole
UP English 12
29 October 2018
Has Teen Punishment Gone Too Far?
It’s interesting that the decisions teens make when they want to try new things and what
goes on in their minds. They’ve been told that life is full of choices, but the teens go out and
ruin their own lives. Society, guidance, and mental state play a big role in their behavior as well
as decision making, and if there is no sign of help, may God be with them. It’s all up to them if
they choose to commit a crime and receive life in prison, thus they should be tried as adults for
heinous crimes.
If teens have any thoughts about actually hurting people and can’t control themselves,
then they’ve already lost their liberty. It doesn’t matter if they are under the influence or not,
they came up with an idea to damage someone or something. From the article, “On Punishment
and Teen Killers” by Jennifer Jenkins, says “A teenager wanted to see what it would be like to
shoot someone (paragraph 2 pg.49)” this shows that teens wanting to experiment with criminal
like activities can cost them their life or be incarcerated. Another example from the same article,
“The offender in our case was a serial killer in the making, after a series of other crimes, and he
planned the murders for months, carefully and privately (paragraph 7 pg.49).” This furthermore
proves that when teens already make up their mind on a crime, they’ve become adults.
Society is everything to teens; they grow up and try to make something of themselves.
But in reality, it turns out that they can’t do anything that’s worth being proud of, so they rely on
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violence, hence becoming criminals. From article, “Kids Are Kids-Until They Commit Crimes”
by Marjie Lundstrom “California voters were so persuaded by tough-on crime rhetoric they
passed proposition 21, shifting power from judges to prosecutors in deciding which juveniles to
charge as adults for certain crimes (paragraph 20 pg. 46)”. Although it lasted for a month, it
really didn’t satisfy the society who was in favor for Prop. 21; Justice should’ve lasted longer to
have a more effective success rate on incarcerating juveniles. So, depending on their mental
state and the society surrounding them, it can take a toll on them, leading them to commit
something they shouldn’t but they act on instinct without thinking about the consequences of
their actions.
Then again, there people who try to save the criminal from the deep hole they dug
themselves in. In the article, “Startling Finds on Teenage Brains” by Paul Thompson states that
“Mathematical brain systems grow little until puberty, corresponding with the observation that
kids have difficulty with abstract concepts before then (paragraph 6 pg. 47)”. Which would
illustrate that thier brain is still not fully developed and as they get older to their teenage years,
the minors lose an outrageous amount of brain tissue. For instance, an example from article
“Juveniles Don’t Deserve Life Sentences” by Gail Garinger, states that “Today, few believe that
criminal genes are inherited, except in the sense that parental abuse and negative home lives can
leave the children with little hope and limited choices (paragraph 7 pg. 51)”. It’s true that
guidance is important to a child, without it that can wind up in big trouble and change their
thought process. They’re still kids who don’t think about the repercussions, their brains aren’t
fully developed yet, and had little to no guidance would serve the notion that they could better
themselves.
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To sum it all up, this debate has some strong reasoning and points of views where it could
get intense and just surprise people, it’s a hard pill to swallow. Yes, there’s the logic that the
minors are young and that they are still getting older but that’s still questionable due to the fact
that they would come up with something inhumane for the heinous crime they took part in. With
that being said, I don’t think that teen/juvenile punishment has gone too far, like there are many
factors that fit into the equation for their behavior, the deed has been done (the crime) that’s all
there is to it so they have to pay the price.
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Works Cited
Garinger, Gail. “Juveniles Don’t Deserve Life Sentences.” ​New York Times 1​ 5 Mar. 2012, New
York ed.: A35. Print
Jenkins, Jennifer Bishop. “On Punishment and Teen Killers.” ​Juvenile Justice Information
Exchange. 2​ Aug. 2011 Web. 11 June 2012
Lundstrom, Marjie. “Kids Are Kids-Until They commit Crimes.” ​Sacramento Bee ​1 Mar. 2001
Thompson, Paul. “Startling Finds on Teenage Brians.” ​Sacramento Bee ​25 May 2001
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