Should children be tried as adults?

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  • the old switcharoo mesa, AZ
    June 13, 2013 5:27 p.m.

    Should adults be tried as children? Well then....?

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    June 12, 2013 8:06 p.m.

    Mike Richards,

    To a degree we know right from wrong at age 8. But no one I know would argue that an 8 year old, a 16 year old, and a 24 year old (just multiples of 8) are all on the same level in terms of what they understand about the true consequences of their actions and hence what right or wrong means in the long term.

    Yes, parents can do a lot. But not all kids have such parents. Maybe they would have listened had they had good parents to teach them. Who takes responsibility for their not being taught true principles?

    Taken to its logical extreme, your final statement (Society has the right to expect justice for all crimes, no matter the age of the "criminal") means that we should give the same sentence to a 9 year old that we do a 29 year old. Surely that makes no sense (which is why we have a juvenile system in the first place).

    My point is that adulthood does not happen in a moment and the justice system should recognize what we recognize in other aspects of life – that becoming an adult is a process.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    June 12, 2013 4:46 p.m.

    At what age should we know "right" from "wrong"? Is it 16 or 18 or 21, or is it 8? What were the conditions given us by the Lord about teaching children to know right from wrong? Didn't He tell us, "And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents."?

    We are all accountable, whether we are those responsible to teach , or whether we are the children who have the right to be taught.

    Not every child will listen. Not every child is obedient. Everyone has agency. If children will not listen or if they are not obedient to the teachings of their parents, they should be prosecuted for their crimes, just like anyone else.

    Society has the right to expect justice for all crimes, no matter the age of the "criminal".

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    June 12, 2013 4:41 p.m.

    procura, I understand. From your twisted point of view everything that is wrong with anything in the world is the fault of those "liberals."

    Sounds even more like what one might hear in a mosque in Iran or Syria.

  • casual observer Salt Lake City, UT
    June 12, 2013 4:06 p.m.

    As a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine noted, it is not always possible to identify those who will commit violent crime and therefore be denied a gun permit. Identifying violent juvenile offenders who will repeat is equally imprecise. For the of safety of society, there seems to be an understandable desire to err on the side of caution. Until accurate identification of young repeat violent criminals is possible and validated rehab techniques are in place, sending a juvenile murderer to a "boys ranch" for 18 months seems illogical at best.

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    June 12, 2013 3:18 p.m.

    @Silence Dogood

    I fully agree. I have always viewed the purpose of punishment to be rehabilitative. Too often we imprison someone. While in jail we feed them and give them a place to sleep.

    After the time served, we simply send them back out with little to no support system, and then act surprised when they mingle with their old crowds and repeat offend. Why not teach them while in prison to be productive members of society. Try to find them a job as their release nears so they can be productive immediately, find a place to live and have something to live for?

    Not only does it help save a soul, but in the long run it would cost society far less.

  • James B. Young SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    June 12, 2013 3:10 p.m.

    When demonstrated depraved character defines the accused, yes, for murder and rape, teens should be tried as an adults. If an 18 year old has sex or sexual contact with a 14 year old, for instance, yes, the older person should be tried as an adult.

  • Silence Dogood Caliente, NV
    June 12, 2013 2:43 p.m.

    @ Darrell. You have a good point. But by harsher sentence I would say "Longer Rehabilitation".

  • Silence Dogood Caliente, NV
    June 12, 2013 2:41 p.m.

    As someone who works with juvenile offenders for a living I can honestly say that most of these offenders should NOT be tried as an adult. But there are some that should certainly be tried as adults and removed from society for as long as possible. The trick is determining which youths should be tried as an adult and which youths shouldn't be tried as an adult. It is sometimes very obvious, but other times it is not. The key factor here is determining how likely a juvenile offender is to victimize and hurt someone again. Another factor is if the juvenile is receptive to rehabilitation or not. I have found that with our population we seem to make a difference in most of their lives and it is beneficial for most of them to be in the juvenile system. These boys and girls often need a loving and caring environment and they will make great changes in their lives. They won't get that in the adult system. They will become further damaged. But there are those few that should be there, no question about it.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    June 12, 2013 1:15 p.m.

    Re: "Perhaps chopping off the kid's right hand would suit you."

    That sounds more like a punishment liberals reserve for conservatives who might use that hand to salute a flag or help a neighbor without a government license. Or maybe you're talking about what liberals do to the truly innocent -- unborn babies.

    Here's the point -- once a person of any age demonstrates a propensity to engage in violent predatory behavior, society has a right to lock him away, in our own defense. We have NO obligation to offer up our kids and grandkids as future victims to these miscreants.

    Doing so shows a lack of compassion to innocents, NOT compassion to criminals.

    We've must place the burden where it belongs -- on the criminal -- to show us he's been rehabilitated to a point we could safely take a chance on him.

    Liberals love to suggest we should feel guilty for imposing long sentences on vicious criminals. Anywhere but in liberal Bizarro-world, we'd be making THEM feel guilty for any crimes committed after a first offense.

  • shakespeare's fool Pleasant Grove, UT
    June 12, 2013 12:15 p.m.

    In government dates and paper have meaning. You drive for years but the day your license expires it mysteriously can no longer identify who you are nor allow you to drive. Same with a passport for identification. In Church, sex outside of marriage is a strict no no. Have an ordinance that marries you and no what was Horrible minutes ago is now fine.

    So why introduce grey to crimes for kids. Why isn't the gray there when my driver's license expires. The picture is still good, the documents I produced are still good. 18 is 18 and not yet 18 is not yet 18.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    June 12, 2013 12:03 p.m.

    Procura, I take it from your comment above that you are not a member of any Christian religion. Sounds more like Muslim with its eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth approach.

    Perhaps chopping off the kid's right hand would suit you.

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    June 12, 2013 11:36 a.m.

    My problem with trying them as adults, is society never treated them as adults to begin with.

    As I understand it a 14 year old can be tried as an adult for murder, yet we don't even let them drive a car. We don't let them consent to sex, or enter into a contract, but we are more than willing to treat them as an adult when it comes to crime.

    Try them as juveniles, but rewrite the penal code so that crimes for which we often try to try them as adults carry a harsher sentence.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 12, 2013 10:54 a.m.

    IMO... children should only be tried as adults IF the crimes they commit have adult consequences on society.

    If the child is involved in adult crimes, there needs to be an adult punishment.

    Punishment is not just for the perpetrator... it's also to protect the community. When 17 year old proves to be an adult risk to the community... you can't just let them out when they turn 21. Turning 21 doesn't mean those tendencies have gone away. Letting them out regardless of knowing they will most likely offend again (just because they are 21) puts the community at risk.

    It should be decided on a case-by-case basis (based on the nature of the crime and a professional evaluation of the perpetrator) but of course some egregious crimes need an adult punishment.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    June 12, 2013 9:06 a.m.

    The nature of the crime should have no place in making a determination whether the young person should be tried as an adult or not.

    Religiously, we recognize that age affects accountability in terms of when one may serve a mission, go to the temple etc. Modern brain science also indicates that age is key to full executive function.

    What we need is what we so often recognize in other areas (for things like drinking, smoking, etc.) which is that there is a phase in between childhood and adulthood. We can argue specific ages, but as a starting point I might use the age of 16 as the end of childhood and 21 as the beginning of full adulthood.

    Young persons in this in between group should be tried separately from adults. I am not arguing that they should simply go into a juvenile system that expunges their record at age 21, but neither should they be tried as full adults (despite the horrific nature of some of their crimes). There should be a separate set of punishments for these young folks - more harsh than the juvenile system but less so than the adult system.

    This would recognize reality.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    June 12, 2013 7:35 a.m.

    Re: "Should children be tried as adults?"

    Sure they should, when their crimes demonstrate they're as hardened, vicious, and irretrievably evil as adult offenders.

    Gangs have become substitute families for far too many youngsters, raising them to be lifelong predators and miscreants. And, unfortunately, that gang influence often continues on into jails and juvenile facilities, as well. Only a determined, well-grounded youthful gang member can make the conversion and completely turn away, and precious few of those turn up in gangs in the first place.

    Once any offender, including a youthful thug, demonstrates a propensity for violent, predatory behavior, the burden must shift to him to show he has made all the necessary long-term adjustments to merit society taking another chance on him.