TITLE: The Law Is Not Blind
By Kimberly Mitchell
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The law is said to be blind. However, society is not blind. Therefore, the thought of trying fourteen year olds as adults is an unacceptable cruelty in the opinions of the bleeding heart crowd. Although there is some validity in their argument; I personally take a more pragmatic stance on the subject. An adult trial for the underage accomplishes the best alternative for justice when we consider it offers the victim’s right to see justice and the existing safeguards built into the adult trial system.
According to Hanna Chiou murder cases among fourteen year olds have increased one hundred and sixty percent between 1984 and 1999. Unfortunately, these fourteen year olds are still classified as juveniles. Because of their immaturity early teen aggression and disrespect for society can be adequately controlled by logic and reason. The one control they understand is the possibility of retribution for illegal actions. The stronger the threat the less likely they will be induced to cross the line of legality and engage in anti-social behavior. Being held to the same level of criminal trial exposure as adults is a sure way to establish a deterrent and show that society takes the consequences to criminal actions seriously. The fact is by deterring delinquent actions of those who may be about to cross the border into illegality we are accomplishing a world of immeasurable good.
The victims of crimes are no less affected by the perpetrations of a fourteen year old than a sixty year old. When we give preferential treatment to a youthful offender it is unfair to the victim and sends the message that victims are of minor importance in the trial process. A crime against an adult deserves an adult trial for the sake of fairness. The first person we should be concerned with is the victim not the youth who stepped out of line to threaten the life and possessions of the innocent. Victims also have a right to a type of closure that gives them some sense of receiving justice so they can go on with what is left of their lives.
What is wrong with trying young teenagers as adults when they are guaranteed the same safeguards as all other tried offenders? Judges are not going to allow a prosecuting attorney to take advantage of a youthful defendant, nor are the members of a jury likely to be able to overcome the apparent youth of a juvenile. Defending attorneys will play the fact of their client’s youth to its fullest advantage. No matter the crime if the youth shows a contrite, repentant and harmless nature to the judge and jury they will no doubt receive mercy above justice and stand a good chance of walking free or a minimum sentence.
In order for the law to protect us and be a deterrent to would be criminals the kid gloves must come off and the iron fist of justice allowed to work. This is as true for the fourteen year old as the adult. Therefore we must consider the fairness of trying these youths as adults because of its deterrent, fairness to victims and safeguards in favor of the defendants.
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