There has been a lot of debate on whether juveniles have the capacity to make good decisions or not. Although children can make a distinction between doing right or wrong, they cannot make firm decisions as compared to adults because of the immaturity of their minds. They should, therefore, not be given criminal punishments equivalent to those given to adults unless the offence committed is very serious. In my view, the age of eighteen years is suitable for treating a juvenile like a grown person. This is because at this age most children are always mature enough to make proper judgments.
Criminal Penalties on Juveniles
The charges imposed on a juvenile who has committed an offence always vary according to the nature of the crime. In my opinion, juveniles who are found guilty of committing capital offences and cannot give valid reasons for their actions should be given death penalties. This is because, “it has been noted with a lot of concern that children are increasingly getting involved in several criminal activities on the pretext that they are still young, and that they will not be charged” (Dicks, 1995).
Most of the children who engage in murder and other violent crimes that warrant death penalties are always aware of the consequences of engaging in such offences. Therefore, they should be given similar penalties as those given to adults. Givving the juveniles serious penalties can prevent other children from engaging in such crimes. Therefore, it can mitigate criminal cases in society.
The juvenile courts should be reshaped in such away that their decisions are governed by effective laws, which can give children effective corrective measures. This is because of the numerous court inconsistencies that usually arise due to poorly drafted laws (Dicks, 1995). Lastly, a juvenile should be handled by the courts based on his or her offense, and the idea individual differences should not be considered because it will lead to biased verdicts. The best alternative is to set a specific age at which a juvenile can be treated as an adult.
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