One criticism of psychology is also that adolescents and child offenders are not tried as adults for adult crimes. Prior to the liberation of the United States from the Colonies, the law stood the children over the age of 14 years could be tried as adults and between 7 and 14 years of age the children went into special institutions (ABA, 2008: 5). The idea behind this was that children are not capable of assimilating the severity of their crimes.
The brain of an adolescent is seen as somewhere between an adult and a child and their emotional upheavals play an important role in why they behave the way they do (International Justice Project, 2008: 3). Sadly the physicians response is that many of the young offenders especially on death row have been abused, neglected and deeply traumatized in childhood (PHR, 2008: 1-2). Psychology believes that this trauma contributes to criminal activity and that these adolescents and children need psychological treatment to reverse the potentially damaging effects of trauma.
In conclusion, psychology has contributed and impacted on the criminal justice system to the point that it is almost part of the criminal process. It is used to predict and confirm psychological profiles and determine what type of person is most likely to commit a crime. John Wayne Gacy had unresolved sexual conflict which with the help of therapy may possibly have been reversed or arrested. However, in cases such as Saddam Hussein and Adolf Hitler, the pertinence of these cases are subject only to the understanding of why these human rights atrocities occur.
In order to prevent the same things from happening again, it is necessary to be able to understand what is happening in the offenders head. Children had been treated as adults prior to Independence but psychologists are slowly unraveling the complex reasons behind why they behave the way they do. Of course, the argument is often swung around the victims, but psychology seeks to find the cause of the problem rather than treating the symptoms.
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