More than twenty years ago, youth violence reached an all-time high and America lost faith in its youth. Legislators across the United States responded to the crime spike by lowering the minimum age to be tried as an adult. Rehabilitation in juvenile facilities was no longer a valid option for violent offenders. Locking up these vicious criminals was the only reasonable alternative. However, harsher laws do not lower the crime rate, sending these children to prison does nothing to benefit society. It merely teaches youths to become better criminals and takes millions of dollars out of the taxpayers’ pockets. Juveniles should not be forced to face the harsh reality of adult criminal court and prison, but should be tried and sentenced as juveniles. Juveniles do not have the reasoning ability that adults do. Their brain is immature. The brain contains about one-hundred million neurons. Neurons do not touch, but transfer information through electrical charges within the brain by chemicals called neurotransmitters. Between each neuron is a small space called a synapse. By the age of two a single neuron may have ten thousand synapses connecting to other neurons. As an individual ages, the brain eliminates unused and unnecessary synapses through a process called synaptic pruning. As this process occurs, the brain changes. At any given age the greatest developmental change takes place in the same region of the brain as the one being trimmed (Steinberg). In adolescence the frontal cortex is being trimmed. This is the area of the brain associated with reasoning, planning, and judgment (Ruder). Unlike adults, adolescents focus on the immediate rewards a situation brings (Brown). In teens, dopamine levels are higher than at any other stage in life. This, as well as an undeveloped frontal cortex, cause the inherent search for thrill and disregard of consequence. The search for pleasurable experiences lessen a teen’s ability to control impulses making them...
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