Throughout the progression of society, there has been much controversy about if youthful offenders should be tried and punished to the same extents as adults. Although a vast population of the American public view juvenile crime as a serious problem and support strong punishment for violent crimes, a substantial portion of the public believe in less harsh treatment for first-time juvenile offenders. Americans are increasingly challenging the traditional belief that minors who commit such heinous crimes should be held accountable for their actions.
Should young offenders who commit serious crimes be tried and given the same punishment as adults? This has been a question that has surfaced for many years. There have been many different speculations to why youth do the things they do. Some effects include the crime itself, the intent to commit the crime, the mental status of the offender, and many other factors. No matter the case, most children are aware and capable of the crime being committed.
Maturity and the mental capacity of a juvenile offender should be taken into consideration when deciding to try juveniles as adult. Vast populations of society’s teenagers know the difference between right or wrong. Yet, they still commit the crime knowing the consequences that follow along with it. “The simple fact is that fully competent and mature juveniles are fully capable of committing the same crime as a competent adult” (Chiou, 2002). They might commit these crimes due to high levels of stress. A lot of times, their actions tend to mirror how they are feeling mentally.
Therefore, they react During the controversial case in 2001, twelve year old Florida resident Lionel Tate was tried and convicted of killing a young female child with wrestling moves that he saw on television. Due to his psychological state of mind, he may have thought that mimicking these types of moves would not hurt the young female child. Media portrayed these wrestling moves as surreal, but non-intentional. During his trial period, Tate was evaluated by a forensic psychologist and his results concluded that he had uncontrolled anger.
At the age of 14, he was convicted of first degree murder and became the youngest person in the history in the U. S. to be sentenced to life in prison without parole. When the American public heard of how harsh his sentence was, they became outraged. Many thought that a child should not be charged and punished that harshly even if they were adolescents. There has been said to be many reasons to why a juvenile offender commits crimes at such a young age. As a child grows up, they can be subjected to a deteriorating neighborhood that thrives on mostly drug use and individuals living in poverty.