Juvenile crime is very wide spread within our country. Juveniles commit crimes every day; whether it’s stealing candy from a store or stealing a life. Those who commit such heinous acts such as taking someone’s life should be sentenced to life in prison or in some cases, death. But the question still stands: what if it is an adolescent who murdered somebody, should they be sentenced to life in prison or even sentenced to walk death row?
I believe that juveniles should not receive life in prison but rather an evaluation on their mental health to see why they acted in such a way. Within the teenagers years our bodies begin to change drastically and one of these changes would be the massive loss of brain tissue. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles have discovered that the brain matter being lost within the teenage years is from areas that control impulse, risk-taking, and self-control.
This further leads teens to act on only their feelings and make rash decisions. An example of this would be Nathaniel Brazill. On his last day of school he was sent home early for throwing water balloons. Before leaving the school he didn’t get the chance to say good-bye to his first serious girlfriend who only six days earlier gave him his first kiss. Fuming, he went home and grabbed a gun belonging to his grandfather and returned to school and shot the teacher in the head.
Brazill was only 13 at the time and was charged with second-degree murder. In the article, “Many Kids Called Unfit for Trial” Greg Krikorian stated, “those under 15 often blind to the long term results of their choices. ” A study directed by a University of Massachusetts professor found that one-third of the eleven- to thirteen-year-olds studied and 20 percent of those fourteen or fifteen years old had levels of reasoning and awareness comparable to those of mentally ill adults judged not competent to stand trial.
Krikorian also stated that, “ younger individuals were less likely to recognize the risks inherent in different choices and less likely to think about the long-term consequences of their choices; including confessions as opposed to remaining silent during police questioning. ” In Brazill’s case, the grand jury had noticed the often quizzical looks that came across his face as the verdicts were read. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison and found guilty of second-degree murder; he was incapable to understand the judicial process in which he was put through.