States vary in their legal definition of a juvenile. In Illinois, for example, a juvenile is defined as any person below the age of 17. Using each states legal definition, the FBI reported that 62% of juveniles arrested in 1992 were referred to juvenile courts, 5% to a criminal or adult court, 2% to a welfare agency, and 1% to another police agency. The kids sent to adult prisons were eight times as likely to commit suicide. It has also been evident that those kids incarcerated with adults are also more likely to become repeat offenders.
Legislation pending in congress now is debating several issues. Among them are weather to have children as young as 13 be prosecuted and sentenced as adults for certain crimes, give prosecutors the discretion to transfer a juvenile to an adult court in certain crimes, and allow juveniles to have incidental contact and in some cases be housed with adults.
I take an opposing point of view with that of congress. If a 13 year old is imprisoned, how can he become a functional member of society upon his release? How will he create a positive lifestyle for himself? The real question is: How can he turn in any direction other than that of crime? He simple will not be able to. If a child is sent to a prison to stay in a cell for hours at a time, the only life he will know is the life he came from, not the life that could be his. Also, a prosecutor shouldn't have the privilege to decide what court a kid is placed in. A prosecutor has a built in bias; the decision should be left to a judge who would look in the best interest of the convicted person. The statistics prove that housing children with adults can only have a... [continues]
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