.. ted the crime techniques seen on television. These felons had watched per day almost twice as much television as the general population of children (93). This violence brought into Americas homes through television programming should come to an end. Gangs have become a prevalent cause of youth violence. According to the Justice Department, there were one hundred twenty thousand gang members in one thousand four hundred thirty-six gangs nationwide in 1998.
Contrary to that report though, is the Washington Times statistic that in 1995, there were more that three hundred fifty thousand gang members nationwide. Obviously, gang activity is extremely extensive. Not only are gangs, getting larger and stronger, but they are becoming more violent. Authorities in California characterize the gangs today as heavily armed..involved in drug trafficking, witness [to] intimidation, extortion, and bloody territorial wars. When police, students, and teachers were surveyed by Metropolitan Life, 93 percent of them maintained that violence in schools was caused by gang membership (Hacker 88). Some advocates for lesser punishments of juveniles argue that prison is a hurtful experience for a teen because that same teen will emerge years later from a world of no affection, no positive role models, and no education other than an intensive immersion in the ways of crime and brutality (Geraghty 34). What do these people think a gang is; loving and caring? If so, they are incredibly wrong.
A gang may be what some juveniles use as a substitute for a family, but it is a brutal form of comradeship that should be found somewhere else! There are positive outcomes when treating juveniles in both adult and youth courts. Sometimes all it takes is an overnight stay in jail, or for others, a little time spent in juvenile hall. Many of these offenders simply committed the crime as a so-called joke, or because they had nothing to do. Although their reasoning may have been poor, they still must be punished. Most all juveniles that have been incarcerated for either a minor offense, or a major felony, have only been imprisoned once. The courts must be doing something right (Abruzzese 4). Then again, there are the juveniles who return to delinquency and are a little harder to deal with.
Take Tyris Wilkerson for example. At the young age of eight, he was arrested for burglary. A year later Wilkerson was arrested for sexual battery. A forcible rape was next on his agenda, with the help of three other boys, all age ten. As punishment for his actions, Wilkerson was placed on a year probation.
Not long after his probation ended, he was arrested for firing a gun within city limits and a month later Wilkerson was arrested for aggravated assault, possession of a stolen vehicle, and possession of a sawed-off shotgun. He received a somewhat larger sentence in a juvenile court, two years in a privately run juvenile facility. Wilkerson was released in eleven months, but picked up shortly after his release for traffic violations. To top it all off, two months later, in September 1995, at the age of fourteen, Tyris Wilkerson was arrested for killing a forty-year old man during an armed robbery. Police claimed he committed two other armed robberies in which victims were shot but not killed. This time, Wilkerson was tried where he should have been sent in the first place; the adult court system.
He was found guilty of second degree murder by a jury so he received the mandatory juvenile life sentence. Who knows how many headaches and heartbreaks could have been spared if only he had been tried as an adult? Tyris Wilkerson is the perfect example of why juvenile delinquents should be tried as adults! As Bob Dole, advocate for tougher measures when dealing with juvenile criminals says, They commit an adult crime, give them adult time!(Nelson 175-176). Crime prevention programs help build self esteem in youth, so as to set them on the right track. On a local level, police departments lead students through the D.A.R.E. program which helps teach them that there are better alternatives than drugs and violence.
These programs help numerous students decided between a life of crime and punishment or a long, happy life. Dealing with youth after theyve been in trouble can be a much more difficult task than showing them what they shouldnt do in the first place. These are rehabilitation programs. One particular method being exercised in Colorado is somewhat like military boot camp. Offenders are placed in this three phase program so that they can rediscover their values and motivation to stay out of trouble.
They also receive academic instruction and cognitive development (Dallao 115). Rehabilitation programs help troubled youths gain their feeling of self-worth, which helps them stay out of trouble. If they commit the crime, they should do the time. Juveniles today believe that their crimes will have no resulting punishment because they are considered minors. They are wrong! Actions do have consequences! I believe in swift and certain punishment, especially when a child has committed an extremely serious offense (i.e. second-degree murder, armed robbery, etc.).
Juvenile delinquents should be tried in the adult court system to insure that they will not be back again. We owe it to the law-abiding citizens in these great United States of America to punishment the juvenile offenders in the manner of their crimes; harshly. Bibliography Abruzzese, George. Juvenile Crime: Approaching the Millennium. Juvenile Justice Jan.
1997: n.p. Available HTTP: http://juvenilejustice.com/millennium.html. 30 Mar. 2000. 1-5. An article giving an overall view of the changing crimes of juveniles.
Butterfield, Fox. Harsh Punishment for Violent Youths: An Overview. Current Controversies : Youth Violence. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven, 1998. An in-depth chapter discussing statistics and studies of youth violence. Dallao, Mary.
Rehabilitation Programs Can Reduce Youth Violence. Current Controversies : Youth Violence. San Diego, CA : Greenhaven, 1998. An argumentative chapter advocating the good of rehabilitation programs for troubled youth. Geraghty, Thomas F. Justice for Children : How do We Get There? Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology Fall 1997 : 190-241. Proquest. Available HTTP: http://proquest.umi.com/pdqweb?TS=967438..1632&SK =2&Idx=17&Deli.
29 Mar. 2000. 1- 43. A lengthy article on court cases and state laws dealing with juvenile offenders. Hacker, Nina George.
Gangs Perpetuate Youth Violence. Current Controversies : Youth Violence. San Diego, CA : Greenhaven, 1998. A brief chapter on how gangs lead to violent youths. Hepburn, Mary A. Television Violence May Cause Youth Violence.
Current Controversies : Youth Violence. San Diego, CA : Greenhaven, 1998. An informative chapter arguing that youths pick- up violent habits due to violent television programming. Hurst, Hunter. Turn of the Century : Rediscovering the Value of Juvenile Treatment. Corrections Today Feb. 1990 : 48-50.
SIRS Researcher on the Web. Available HTTP : http://sks.sirs.com/cgi-bin/hst-article..1900&typ e=ART&sound=no&key=Rape Factors. 30 Mar. 2000. 1-4. An article on developing trends in juvenile crimes.
Explores causes for youth violence and researches early court system. Kramer, Rita. The Juvenile Justice System Is Too Lenient. Current Controversies : Youth Violence. San Diego, CA : Greenhaven, 1992.
A chapter explaining the changes needed in the juvenile court system in America. Nelson, Lane. Harsh Punishment Will Not Help Violent Youths. Current Controversies : Youth Violence. San Diego, CA : Greenhaven, 1998. A controversial chapter on why juveniles should not be treated harshly.
Stewart, Gail B. The Other America : Teens in Prison. San Diego, CA : Lucent, 1997. An informative book on what juvenile punishment is really like. Vieregge, J.D.
Breaking the Rules. Simply the Best. Nashville Community High School, Nashville, IL. 1 Apr. 2000.
A Presentation on the consequences juvenile delinquents face upon entering the court system. Witkin, Gordon. How to Keep Young Toughs From Committing Violent Acts : Swift and Certain Punishment. U.S. News & World Report 29 Dec. 1997-5 Jan 1998 : 67-70. Proquest.
Available HTTP: http://proquest.umi.com/pdqweb?TS=95435..&Fmt=4&S id=1&Idx=2&Deli=1&RPT=309&Dtp =1. 29 Mar. 2000. 1-3. A newspaper article discussing how harsh punishment will hinder youth violence. Social Issues.