A Question of Juvenile Offenders in prison
By: Shakira S. Scarborough
SOC120: Introduction to Ethics & Social Responsibility (GSG1150I Professor James Slack
Raising children is a difficult task. It does not get easier as they become older. Nonetheless, juvenile children should not be punished in the same manner as adults. By means of religious journals, a report from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and statistics, I am able to prove through a utilitarian’s view that children do not belong in adult prisons. There are better alternatives which would give them an opportunity to become better citizens.
Discipline or Punishment – Which do you prefer?
Juvenile Offenders in prison
Pedro Alonso López may not be a name familiar to most in the United States. However, many in Columbia, Ecuador and Peru would know his name. He is an adult male that admitted to raping and killing 300 girls under the age of twelve. The penalty for committing so many murders was prison. Yet, what should be done about adolescents? Should they also go to the same adult prison as Lopez for committing non-violent crimes? Children need discipline as part of their learning processes in order to aid them in becoming productive members of society. Yet an adult prison is not the proper means of accomplishing this. Juveniles in adult prison are not receiving the education needed for future employment, and they suffer abuse. There are better options to aid them into maturing. We cannot forget that they are only children and it is not too late for them to modify their behaviors for the better. With proper discipline, there is an excellent chance that this can be achieved. After all, regarding punishment, utilitarians would consider actions as good if and only if a punishment were fair and were for the better good. Some, such as a universal ethical egois, believes that sentencing a juvenile to an adult prison is not a major concern. After all, the criminal is hidden away from well behaved children and law abiding citizens so they are no longer a threat. On the surface, this does make sense. We have all heard; ‘You do the crime, you do the time.’ However, an adult prison side by side with violent criminals is not the environment to discipline a fifteen year old child thief. In 1977 Historian Steven Schlossman claimed that juvenile offenders should be provided the “ love and affection one would find in a family setting..” (Summer,2002) Although a historian, he knew the benefits of the correct form of discipline, rather than looking merely to punish a juvenile only. Discipline is what is necessary and benefits society which is a goal of utilitarianism. Consider the definition of discipline. Although discipline may sound harsh, it does not have to be. Discipline is not to punish. “It is to be ‘lovingly rendered, and prepares a youth for the demands and pressures of adulthood. And, the essence of discipline is teaching and training.’ (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1998) Clearly a utilitarian would agree that an adult prison would not provide this kind of an environment. It is true that the arrested juvenile must follow a schedule in prison, as to when to exercise, when to eat and when lights must go out for the evening. Keeping a schedule is important. Yet, learning to maintain a schedule is not all that is required in aiding a child in leaving crime behind him. The environment of an adult prison is not sufficient for providing the proper guidance. Whom would the child get direction and guidance from? Why, the serial rapist he is sharing a room with. Think of what sort of information this criminal is feeding the child that he may store into his mind. Later, he can retrieve it, perhaps as soon as discouragement and hopelessness sets in upon his release. Discouragement and hopelessness will come. These are feelings which an adult prison has done...