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Is It Ethical To Charge Minors as Adults?

Ethics is a combination of morals and principles that govern people’s behavior. These standards control the actions of people and also their interactions. Ethics is a concept that differentiates right and wrong. Many activities might seem right, but their results have a more negative impact. The charging of minors as adults is a scenario that raises concern regarding ethics. It is not clear if this action is right or wrong. Charging minors as adults might bring some advantages, but the negative impact is more. There are many cases of young people who get charged as adults despite their young age. Judges can move a minor case into the criminal court of adults. This process is called a waiver. The young offender needs to have committed a serious crime for this to happen. Several reasons might lead to a waiver. The first reason is unsuccessful rehabilitation attempts in the past. If a minor has a record of going through the juvenile system, they can also face the possibility of a waiver. The main advantage of a waiver is the ability of the offender to appear before a jury. This is advantageous to young people because the jury is more likely to sympathize with a minor. A waiver brings many challenges to a convicted minor. Despite their young age, convicted minors serve their time as adult prisoners. Therefore it is important to compare the advantages and effects of a waiver, as this will help determine if the matter is ethical.

Several reasons might cause the judge to waive juvenile protections for young offenders, and a waiver paves the way for young offenders to be charged as adults. This action has both positive and negative impacts, and therefore it is important to analyze the impacts to gauge if the process is ethical.

Young offenders can be charged as adults due to several reasons. Young people over sixteen can be charged as adults if they commit a serious offense. If a minor has also been through the juvenile system before, the judge can waive their protection from the juvenile. The government provides rehabilitation for juveniles as long as they are ready to rehabilitate. If a minor has a history of going through these programs without reforming, they can get a waiver. All these scenarios show that the adult prison system is not aimed at reforming young offenders. The extreme cases are the cases that are meant for waivers (Gitlin: 9). However, this action may be causing more negative effects to the offender and society. This is because adult prisons have more violence rates and fewer rehabilitation programs. Furthermore, this step focuses on punishment for offense rather than control or rehabilitating the offenders.

Charging minors as adults allow them to appear in front of a jury. If the offender is responsible for a minor crime, the jury will sympathize and offer a minimum punishment for the offense. However, the adult system is strict, with many charges harsh to the offenders. Exposing young minors to this scenario does not prevent them from getting punished. On the contrary, it exposes them to the possibility of serving serious time in an adult prison. It is more challenging to provide care and health support for minors serving sentences in adult prisons. If the court decides to lock minors in a maximum-security prison instead of a juvenile, it becomes hard for the rehabilitation programs to be effective. Many minors get severe sentences once the judge waives their juvenile protection. The adult prison aims at punishing their offense rather than helping them amend their ways.

It is necessary to identify the stigma involved in minors being convicted in an adult court. Society can cope with a minor who has been charged at a juvenile court, but it is hard for them to accept a minor who gets charged in a criminal court for adults. The social stigma makes it hard for minors to be accepted back into society after serving their sentence. They also have mental health issues due to stigmatization. The decision to declare a waiver by a judge is meant to protect society from crime, especially from the young offenders. Unfortunately, waiving the juvenile protection rights for young offenders makes it hard for them to appreciate and care for their community. Using alternate rehabilitation methods rather than punishment can help young offenders understand the effect of crime and the importance of caring for their environments (Gitlin: 36). If society looks at the impact of charging minors as adults, it is clear that this action does not help minors stop crime. It concentrates on eliminating the punishment threshold to ensure that minors get severe consequences for their crime. These waivers raise concern since they are meant for punishment, not correction or transformation.

The judge can issue a waiver if they suspect that the minor is mature enough to make their decisions. Signs of premeditated crime may indicate that minors understand their actions need consequences. However, this does not put into consideration many other factors. It fails to address the issue of mental health challenges or is influenced by external factors. It is difficult to gauge the maturity level of a young person during investigations of a crime. Many young people might suffer from stress or anxiety, which makes them act out as they are still young. The criminal justice system forces young minors to get exposed to crime at a young age due to the assumption that they matured early. However, this pushes the young offenders further into crime. If they get locked up with adult offenders, they are more likely to get influenced by criminals making it hard to reform. A waiver shows a consistent justice system, but it fails to address all the different issues and requirements of offenders under the age of consent. It is more effective to offer maximum prevention measures rather than severe punishment for crimes committed by minors who do not understand the full consequences of their actions.

Correction and rehabilitation are only effective if offenders get another chance to rebuild their lives. Young offenders who get sentenced in a juvenile court have the chance to get their records sealed in the future. This helps them get a chance for education, employment, and other opportunities without hindrances from their criminal past. If the young offenders are sentenced to adult prison, it is challenging to seal their criminal records (Gitlin: 75). It is difficult to get opportunities if an individual has prior criminal records. Therefore it becomes difficult for the young offenders to integrate with society after serving their time. They also lack jobs, social lives, and other amenities, which might force them to return to crime. It is important to offer these young offenders a chance to start over in their lives. Having a criminal past that keeps interfering with their progress in the future is not effective. It is crucial to give these minors a chance to mend their ways by sealing their past and sentences for a crime.

Charging minors as adults does not consider or solve the root problem. The majority of the young offenders constitute the minority groups. Locking these young people behind bars does not resolve the problem of why they commit these crimes. This strategy gives society a false feeling of safety, but the crime rate increases. The best way to solve this problem is to identify how these young offenders can be assisted to shift from the life of crime (Gitlin: 103). Poverty and low living standards are among the reasons that force young offenders from minority groups to commit crimes. If society can address these problems, the number of young offenders will reduce. Moreover, exposing these minors to an adult environment guarantees that they are more likely to repeat their actions due to the influence of adult offenders.

In summary, ethics should help society determine whether an action is right or wrong depending on the impacts. The same policy should effectively decide whether the justice system has the right to charge minors as adults. The correct results can only be produced via an analysis that compares the positive effects to the negative impacts of this action. The concept of a waiver declaration aims at providing serious punishment for offenders who are below the age of consent. These waivers are meant to eliminate all protections that the juvenile system offers young offenders. However, this approach does not emphasize correction and rehabilitation. On the contrary, it aims at providing a temporary feeling of safety for society. It fails to assist the young offenders in reforming or controlling crime. This approach raises concerns as it brings about many negative issues that outweigh the positive impacts.

Works Cited

Gitlin, Marty. Incarceration of minors. Greenhaven Publishing, 2020.


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