Juvenile Crime and Punishment
The punishment of juvenile criminals, specifically those between the ages of 13 and 18, in the event that they commit crimes of murder, is not severe enough. Minors between these critical ages in the teenage life who commit crimes of murder should be prosecuted as adults in all situations and locations.
Teenagers in this age group do kill others, old and young alike. The rate at which juveniles were arrested for murder rose 177 percent between 1978 and 1993 (NBER.org). This shows that there is a need for stopping or at least slowing this trend in homicidal acts. Statistics clearly show that juviniles between the ages of 14 and 17 during the years of 1976 to 1994 are increasing in numbers in the amount of murders they commit.
The event in Littleton, Colorado is another example of the fact that teenagers are killing others. Carrying several weapons and setting off homemade bombs, teen-agers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded about 26 others before committing suicide at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 at 11:21 a.m. (usatoday.com/182). These two young men had hatred in their hearts that no person will be able to explain. They knew what they were doing and wanted to do it well. They did what they were trying to do: kill others. If these two young men had not committed suicide, would they have been prosecuted as adults? We will never know because of the choice they made to take their own lives, but I certainly hope that they would have received the correction they deserved. In this situation, that due punishment would have been a trial as though they were adults who killed other human beings.
What happens when teenagers kill others? Many are affected: from the nation to cities or towns to schools at all levels (e.g. universities, high, middle, and elementary schools) and to individual families. In fact, many schools and communities have increased security in the hope that this security will deter students from violent actions like murder. Many families are severely affected as well. Just recently (October 22, 1999) Carla June Hochhalter, the mother of one of the students (Anne Marie Hochhalter) injured in the Columbine High School tragedy, committed suicide because of the stress caused by her daughter's condition. This woman could no longer bear the tragedy that was caused by two young men who weren't thinking how many lives they would shatter. Suicide is a terrible way to handle situations, as the gunmen and mother of the injured girl did, but it does happen.
What happens to teenagers who commit homicide now varies depending on the location of the incident, home state of the murder(s), and scope of the crime (e.g. were many killed or just one). After the Littleton shooting, Colorado lawmakers blocked votes on bills that would make it easier to carry concealed weapons, banned lawsuits against manufacturers, and pre-empted local gun...