Last Updated 19 Jan 2023

A Discussion on Whether Minors Should Be Charged as Adults for Violent Crimes

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New California law states that it is up to the prosecutors in a case as to whether minors are charged as adults for violent crimes. What should a judge do when eight boys from suburban middle class families, confess to armed robbery and assault and battery of five Hipic immigrant farm workers? In this case, one must realize what a delicate situation this has come to be. If tried as adults these eight boys could spend their next sixteen years in juvenile detention. They were described as being 'good boys' with no other marks on their records. With only one reason for committing such a crime, these boys need to face their racism while justice is being served, with non-traditional punishment that will teach an unforgettable lesson.

As upper-middle class, above-average students, even some athletes, these boys obviously do not know what life is all about. Authorities said that the boys were specifically looking for Hipic workers to attack, so that shows the boys had some type of motive. In this day and age where Americans have a need to be treated as equal; equal opportunity employers, equal rights for men, women, African-American, Chinese-American, and every other group of people in this country, one would think that somewhere along the line children would get the message that we are all the same. Children should be taught to love, not hate. It is painful to see such a crime committed just for the mere fact that they were different. Didn't hate crimes end in the sixties? Why is it that still parents cannot or will not instill in their children ideals of an equal human race? Black or white, brown or red, rich or poor, aren't we all the same when you turn out the lights? I am not saying that I think this is entirely the parents' fault, but they do need to take blame. At the age these boys are at, their parents are some of their few role models, and they always will be, but at this age, parents are the most influential people in a child's life, nothing can come close to a mother's scorn, or a fathers praise. In that sense too, children believe in what their parents believe in, not because it is right, but because it is the only way they know. So, parents should watch when they say they hate someone or some group and we should all try to be better people, for the sake of our children. (Gil Garcetti 588-590)

In a crime this violent, considering the assailants and their victims, a measure of justice needs to be served. The assailants need to take responsibility for their actions. However, sixteen years in a juvenile detention facility does not seem the best answer. James Twitchell believes that, "In recent years the dispensers of the law are finally realizing that shame has a place in punishment." (602) And so, there needs to be a way of measuring how the boys are rehabilitated, and their community needs to be involved, as well as their parents and friends. Justice means fairness. It means righteousness, impartiality, honesty, and integrity. Justice should be measured by the victims themselves, they should get to see their assailants suffer and learn from their mistakes. That is what justice is all about. These boy assailants need to witness justice first hand in order for it to have any affect ct on them. (Garcetti 588-590)

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A punishment that can validate such a heinous crime needs to be quite creative. One could just shout "An eye for an eye!" As Mark Costanzo concedes, "even the often misinterpreted 'eye for an eye' passage in the bible was meant to restrain rather than require vengeance." (592) But that is not how our judicial system works, although it would be fair. Still there are others, like Bradley O'Leary who implies that "the punishment should fit the crime, not the age of the violent offender. As a society, we cannot show any sympathy for, or excuses from, the youth thugs who are destroying our schools and neighborhoods." (590) These boys will be punished, as they should be, but their judge has an opportunity to change their lives forever. If I were the judge in this case, I would make those boys work in the fields with the Hipic migrants for at least a year or two, possibly longer. The boys would not be earning money, they would have to work off cost of hospital bills and court costs that their actions caused. They also would have to be watched over as they work so as not to let them alone with anyone where they might possibly cause harm to anyone else. This in turn could maybe build a bridge and teach the boys that Hipics are just like every one else, and that hate is not the answer to anything.

I believe that these boys should be made to feel the repercussions of what they did and how that affects the lives of those who they did it to. In no way should they be let to live a normal life, because everyone should know of what violence can cause, so that these kind of things do not happen in the future. Only then can we say that we are safe. Only when our children are behaving the way good boys and girls should be.

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