Why Children Should Not Go to Prison

Topics: Prison, Youth detention center, Death Penalty Pages: 5 (1695 words) Published: October 10, 2010
Why Children should not go to prison

When an adult leaves prison, they take baggage home with them, one can imagine what an adult who grew-up in prison brings home? A young man celebrated his 18th birthday in a juvenile detention center; his gift from the state was a transfer into an adult prison. The crime had been committed eight years earlier and by-law this inmate is now an adult. After hearing some of the risqué’ comments from the other inmates, the youth blushes. At 10, he pointed a gun and shot a family member. Afterwards he was sorry, but before he pulled the trigger, the anger conquered his immature mind. Social interaction programs should be in place when a child begins school, and continue until the child becomes a grandparent. The United States has seen an increase in crime amongst its young, with Congress resorting to studying the problem; parents are wondering where to turn for help as they watch their child travel into a system they do not understand and cannot find help in changing the child’s path to prison. While the public believes that prison punishes and rehabilitates, our national focus should be on prevention programs because children do not belong in prison.

Until our country begins to change the juvenile prison system, the incarceration of our young is perpetuating the problem and enhancing criminology for low-risk offenders (Gendreau, Goggin, and Cullen, 1999). Advocates of let the punishment fit the crime and those that believe the prisons have been cleaned-up (Blackstrom, 2006) should review our prison system in the entire country and its detrimental impact on the children who grow-up within that system (Sandberg, 2009). The juveniles that receive a life sentence do not fully understand what that entails until they are 18 years old or older, in which magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain research has proven. This research directly affected the outcome in the Supreme Court case in Roper v. Simmons, which ruled that the death penalty is unconstitutional to use on juvenile offenders. ”Justice Anthony M. Kennedy noted that immaturity, by definition, can mean acting irresponsibly and being highly susceptible to negative peer pressure” Hubner (2006). Our prisons are the most stressful environment an individual can enter. Juvenile detention centers have inmates as old as 18 and 21; therefore, rape is a primary concern for a 10-year-old, which increases with time. “Inmates have suicide rates nine times higher than individuals in the general public” Kulbash (2008). The public has been entirely misled when President Bush signed The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003. This act requires all rapes must be reported, in hope of eventual elimination, otherwise, studied in order to develop a better understanding and develop prevention methods (Implementing the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, 2004).

“While hard data on sexual assaults in prison is not easy to find, and observers dispute the
Precise frequency, no one who knows American jails and prisons doubts that rape and sexual
assault -- usually perpetrated by other inmates but occasionally by prison staff—are facts of
daily life.”
(Weisburg, & Mills, 2003)
However, rape is not the only concern for a juvenile surviving prison. An adolescent growing up in prison has been sexually and physically assaulted, bullied, threatened, blackmailed, and harassed. Over the years, he has learned to do the same to others. “Youths also fear one another: leaders of geographically based gangs order hits on other inmates” (Ludlow, 2008). Prison teaches our youths to “push” the rules until one is caught and punished, than the prisoner is rewarded with respect or fear by the other inmates. According to Ireland and Monaghan (2006), another direction the juvenile offender can take is to cause a...
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