The Juvenile Death Penalty: A Case For It

2151 words - 9 pages

When I was a junior in high school, I was arrested and expelled from school. I spent the rest of my high school education jumping between online and alternative school. I went to six different schools between spring of junior year and spring of senior year, trying to find a school that would accept an expelled student but also provide challenging enough classes for me. Once my expulsion was up, I returned to public school and finished out my senior year at Lakewood High School. In May 2013, I graduated high school with a 3.5 accumulative grade point average, pulling a 4.0 grade point average from the time of my expulsion on. I walked across the same stage as the athletes, the band geeks, the book worms and the teacher’s pets. An expelled student with a juvenile record walked across the same stage as the full ride scholarship earners and the Valedictorians. Today, I am attending the University of Northern Colorado, double majoring in Criminal Justice and Psychology. I received a 3.4 grade point average my first semester, while holding two part time jobs and playing softball as well. This semester, I have a 3.5 grade point average and three jobs. I want to become a forensic psychologist and am working towards graduate school. I am living proof that rehabilitation is possible for 99% of juvenile offenders. Juveniles who commit non-serious and non-violent crimes are completely able to be rehabilitated. However, in accordance with the law, the death penalty should be a sentencing option in juvenile criminal cases. It should only be an option when the crime committed is violent, premeditated, and malicious, because these offenders are beyond the possibility of rehabilitation and the risk of recidivism is too great.
Rehabilitation is defined as “to bring a criminal into a healthy state of mind and an attitude which would be beneficial to society, rather than harmful. A criminal must become an active, helpful, healthy member of society to be considered rehabilitated” (The Law Dictionary). Rehabilitation is the general goal or the juvenile justice system. The juvenile justice system is based on the idea that most crimes committed by juveniles are petty. The offender will be able to “recover” from the crime which will hopefully have been committed at a young enough age to not heavily impact their life later on. This is the reason why juvenile records are confidential and sealed by the courts. Most juvenile crimes are considered mistakes or “speed bumps” by the offenders, the psychologists who are brought in to work with the juveniles in rehabilitation and eventually even by the victims. I was ordered to see a psychologist after I was arrested. On our very first meeting, after explaining what I did and why, she said, “There is nothing wrong with you at all. You’re a good kid, a great kid. You just made a dumb mistake” (Cari Cornish, personal communication, June 2012). Juveniles can be rehabilitated from mistakes, like I was. Juveniles cannot, however, be...

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