Our Juvenile Justice System Essay

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Running head: OUR JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM 1 Our Juvenile Justice System “The Battle For and Against Our Children” Robert Maestas Saint Leo College OUR JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM 2 Our Juvenile Justice System “The Battle For and Against Our Children” The story saddened a community the sentence stunned a nation. At age 12 Lionel Tate used wrestling moves on a playmate that was half his age and a third of his body weight that resulted in the little girl’s death. The incident albeit a tragedy took a back seat to the question of how to deal with this child of 12 years. During sentencing Lionel’s mother rejected a plea deal that would have required Lionel to plead guilty to second-degree murder and serve 3 years in a juvenile detention center. Instead the verdict came back guilty for first degree murder and a life sentence and in an instance Lionel, then at age 14 became the youngest person in the United States to be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Referring to Lionel’s youth the New York Times wrote “He sat much of the trial in neat slacks and shirt sleeves seemingly taking notes. Often he was drawing pictures. It was those two images—a man-child who looked old enough to know the consequences yet who seemed to live in a world of make- believe—that the jury was confronted with as it deliberated”. http://www.nytimes.com/2001 Child or adult? This question has raised concerns across our country and continues to make headlines as we wrestle with the idea of incarcerating children for adult like crimes. The centuries old idea that children are less blameworthiness and are better able to be rehabilitated
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