In the Frontline video “When Kids Get Life” we were introduced to 5 cases in the state of Colorado where teenage boys had been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. After watching the video I found myself struggling to have an objective opinion on the issue presented, mostly because of personal experiences being a victim of childhood abuse and also having a family member (my brother) murdered. I felt the video to be very one sided but I do find myself agreeing with the point the producers were trying to make. I feel that teenagers should have more opportunities at rehabilitation from crimes committed before the age of 21 then those criminals that are convicted after the age of 21. I also feel strongly that when it comes to teenagers and violent crimes that great emphasis needs to be placed on the motive for the crime, for example if there was long term abuse or neglect as well as any substance abuse involved, and what kind of support if any the child has ever had in their lives.
In my opinion the age at which a person should be given life imprisonment is 21. I developed this opinion for three reasons. The first being my personal experience, there were two men involved in my brother’s murder one man was 26 at the time and the other was just barely 18, neither man was sentenced to any long term prison time but of the two the 18 year old has shown greater signs of rehabilitation. I have also had a lot of exposure to the darker side of society and I have seen more improvement come from the younger ‘criminals’ then I have from the older ones. My second reason is the overwhelming amount of scientific evidence regarding brain development and mental processes. According to the Time magazine article ‘What Makes Teens Tick’ Dr. Jay Giedd states that “The very last part of the brain to be pruned or shaped to its adult dimensions is the prefrontal cortex, home of the executive functions.” This area of the brain is the part that allows adults to