Incarcerating Kids Destroys American Society
Humans all make mistakes, it is a part of life that no one can avoid. However, young adults are more likely than the older generations to make bad decisions and take part in things that they may someday regret. Some people say that making mistakes is just a part of growing up. But what if just one wrong decision could mean the difference between a normal childhood and spending the rest of adolesence behind cold steel bars with cruel and vicious adult criminals? Unfortunately for a growing number of young teenagers, their reality is never being given a second chance to change or correct their mistakes. Why? Some may ask, because instead of attending school, learning the difference between right and wrong, and finding out about themselves and life, they are struggling to hold their own to prove how tough and grown up they are to the only role models within their reach. Murders, rapists and drug dealers are the kind of people young kids who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time are forced to live behind bars with everyday. Sending kids to adult prisons is wrong and uneccesarily destroys their futures. Juvenile offenders who commit nonviolent crimes should be rehabilitated in the juvenile justice system where they could continue their education and better learn from their mistakes.
Florida is one such state that should reconsider how to handle the matter of sending juveniles to adult prisons. According to Florida's state incarceration statistics, in May 1996, there were 104 youths (under 18 years) mixed in with the adult population in the Florida prison system, and 457 youths under the jurisdiction of Florida's adult correctional system (Florida 7). Congress is continually passing new laws to keep first time juvenile offenders from ever getting a second chance in life. The irony
of the problem of sending thousands of children to adult prisons every year instead of juvenile centers, where they could change for the better, is that statistics show that incarcerating kids in adult prison does not work.
Florida is an excellent example of a state that continually convicts more and more juveniles despite the facts that sending juvenile's to prison does not work. A 1996 study showed that youth transferred to adult court in Florida were a third more likely to re-offend than those sent to the juvenile justice system for the same crime (Florida 8). Statistics show that teen-agers tried as adults committed serious crimes upon release at a rate double those tried as juveniles (Juveniles 32). Florida state should revaluate how they want Florida citizens to help society.
The problem is only increasing. Instead of putting more money into rehabilitation centers for youth, the government is building more prisons to house adult and juvenile offenders. The problem has not gone unrecognized though, former President of the United States, Bill Clinton recognized that juvenile...