Through out the past there have been many cases that have presented the problem of convicting children. Many can argue that children are too young to understand the effects and reasons for the crimes they commit so the juvenile system is an effective system. Others, like this author, argue that the punishment young children are receiving in juvenile facilities for violent crimes do not punish them fairly or help them learn from their actions. In her essay “Adult Crime, Adult Time,” Linda J. Collier is presenting her view on the outdated laws concerning the age of which a person is considered to be a juvenile in the judicial system.
She argues that the juveniles committing the most violent crimes are not being effectively punished for their actions, due to the juvenile system existing today. Collier constructed a very persuasive essay supporting this topic through her credibility from working with the children in the juvenile system, logos, and diction, which all draws the audience to see the author’s standpoint and to help support her perspective of the need for change. Collier uses many facts and logical appeals in order to influence her audience to agree with, or at least understand, her reasoning for her view on this subject.
Her strongest piece of logos that she incorporates, which also relates to the title of her essay, is when she exclaims that, “Children who knowingly engage in adult conduct and adult crimes should automatically be subject to adult rules and adult prison time” (535). She intends for this to show that it is only logical that if someone, no matter what age, were to consciously commit what she refers to as an “adult crime,” their punishment should be equivalent to the severity of their actions.
Collier included that they if they were “knowingly engag[ing] in adult crime,” it is only fair that they pay the same “adult prison time,” because children who commit these violent crimes know the brutality of their action but still go forth to perpetrate it against the law (535). This quotation as a whole is meant to make the audience agree due to its basic logic; that if you commit the crime you do the time. Collier also uses logos when she explains to the reader that the current juvenile system was “…developed with truant, vandals, and petty thieves in mind.
But this model is not appropriate for the violent juvenile offender today” (535). She is reasoning with the audience that this was an effective system in the past when there was less crime, but she explains that crime has changed since then. Early in her essay, Collier presented the fact that “crimes committed by juveniles have increased by 60 percent since 1984” and juveniles are “now more likely to be the perpetrators of serious and deadly crimes…” (533). She used these details to present solid facts in order to support the quotation previously addressed.
Now the audience is drawn to consider that the author is making a good assumption when she stated the system was “not appropriate for the… offender today,” knowing that the system is not efficient and that violent crimes have increased significantly (535). Her purpose for this statement is to inform us that young adults/children today are committing more heinous crimes, so it is time to update to the necessary punishment for the crimes being committed by juveniles in the world today.
The author also uses her credibility to show the audience that she is not trying to argue against a certain thing, but just trying to show the need for change due to the benefit it will have. Collier explains that her “views are not those of a prosecutor,” to show the audience that she is not just trying to throw corrupt children in jail (534). But soon reveals her true purpose when she explains how she worked as a guardian in the Philadelphia juvenile justice system, and how she has seen through her own experience “that the system is doing a poor job at treatment as well as punishment” (534).
Collier draws out the readers understanding by showing that her argument is credible because she has worked with the juveniles in theses facilities, and has seen how ineffective the current system is towards certain children. This allows the audience to understand that she knows what she is arguing for and that she is only doing so for the benefit of the children. Collier uses an example about a young girl she worked with, who spent her life in running away from her foster care and “ended up pregnant… committing adult crimes to survive” (534).
Then she explains how this “is the kind of teenage offender for whom the juvenile system has little or nothing to offer” (534). Collier uses her experience with this young girl to illustrate to us that she sympathizes for the girl’s situation, and to show how the juvenile system is not going to be effective in correcting or punishing this young girl for her crimes. She used the fact that she has experience with the current system to persuade her argument, and show how she is a credible source for her claim. Collier’s also uses diction in this essay that is very valuable to her effectiveness.
In her thesis statement the author describes how she “cringed” at the fact that juvenile offenders, not only in the Jonesboro case but in most juvenile cases, are being “regarded by the law as children first and criminals second (533). ” By choosing the word “cringe,” Collier is using the negative connotation that comes with the word to express to the reader how she feels about the juvenile system. The reader can infer that she is withdrawn or embarrassed by the fact that these children are committing these adult crimes and not being treated as adult criminals.
Collier is showing how ineffective the juvenile facilities are when she states they aren’t “even a slap on the hand,” and describes how the offenders there are being “treated rather than punished” (535, 533). She used these statements carefully; to show the audience how injudicious it is to put a killer or rapist, who happened to commit the atrocious crime at a young age, in a juvenile facility when they are not being punished for their actions but undergoing “treatment” that is compared to as “slap on the hand.
Collier draws in the audiences thought, because a ‘slap on the hand” is a punishment for a child that eats a piece of candy before dinner, but the fact that it is compared to our juvenile system tells us that there really is need for a change. Collier also tries to show how hard it is to get around the current system in court, even when the juvenile offender has committed a repulsive crime by choosing certain remarks like “legal cartwheels” and “exacting hurdles” (533, 535). She wants the audience to see that it is currently to hard to put a juvenile in adult court, just because they are young.
But she clarifies that they aren’t “insurmountable,” to show that it is possible now but needs to be updated in the near future, or else these crimes will continued to go unpunished (535). Collier uses many tactics to persuade her reader to understand the point she is making, which is that the juvenile system is not enough punishment for the common juvenile offender today, and why she is making it. Due to the fact that times have changed and crimes from juveniles are more likely to be serious ones, Collier effectively persuades her audience change is needed through her use of a variety of rhetorical strategies.