Juvenile Life Imprisonment

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Kirsten Shew

A Juvenile’s Right to Change
Making mistakes is part of human nature and the progression of self-identity. People do it all of the time, and among people even children make mistakes. Sometimes, the degree of the mistake is minor and other times it is disturbingly extensive. Either way, a punishment is almost mandatory and in the case of an extensive punishment life imprisonment is only too often considered and acted upon. Shutting a child away in prison should be out of the question for three main reasons: they have a chance at rehabilitation, such an immense degree of punishment is unconstitutional and juveniles are in no way the same as adults. As a teen, you are most vulnerable to the shaping of beliefs, identity and viewpoints. Currently, there are over 2,500 individuals serving life without parole due to a crime they committed when they were as young as 13. When you send a child to prison for life, they arrive there just as that – a child. They are vulnerable and they are frightened. Change, for them, seems like the best decision in the world at that moment and later in their future it could be the best choice they had made. Teen offenders who commit mass crimes such as homicide or battery are often sentenced to an adult prison instead of a juvenile rehabilitation center. In an adult prison, a juvenile learns the ways of these older peers who have the extreme power to influence them and teach them the ways of a true criminal. In a juvenile rehabilitation center, they are surrounded by other teens that had committed crimes relatable to theirs and are influenced by other’s desires to change and become a real member of society. In an article by Steven Silverman, he talks about case of Zachary Watson and Emmanuel Miller who had both committed what was to believe a hate crime and had both asked to be sent to juvenile court. Miller’s wish had been granted and Watson’s had been refuted. In adult prison, Watson was stabbed and repeatedly harassed...
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