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How far should juvenile sentencing restrictions go?

Until you turn 18, you’re pretty well protected from the more extreme aspects of the justice system.

In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to execute juvenile offenders, no matter what their crime. And in May 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that juveniles may not be sentenced to life in prison without parole, unless they’re found guilty of homicide. The justices ruled that both violate the Eighth Amendment’s protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

Some feel that these sentencing restrictions still don’t go far enough. Others feel they go too far.

A case is pending in Pennsylvania that challenges the state Supreme Court to expand the recent ruling on life without parole. It’s based on the sentencing of Easton youth Qu-eed Batts, who was sentenced to life in prison for shooting and killing a fellow teenager amid a gang-related dispute. His attorneys argue it’s unconstitutional to sentence a 14-year-old to life in prison, even if the teen is convicted of murder.

When the Eighth Amendment was ratified as part of the Bill of Rights in 1791, its provision against “cruel and unusual punishment” was meant to protect against gruesome, torturous sentences – burning at the stake, drowning or crucifixion. Over the years, that definition of “cruel and unusual” has broadened in an attempt to makes sentences more accurately fit the crime. In some states, it’s rare to see death row inmates executed – that’s because they are fighting their sentence on the ground of “cruel and unusual.” And the “cruel and unusual” test doesn’t just apply to sentences. It’s been used to challenge prison conditions such as unsanitary cells and overcrowding.
Batts’ attorneys contend that youths have a greater capacity for rehabilitation than adults do. They say  that the juvenile brain is still developing, so youths should not be held as accountable for their actions as adults are. Not everybody buys this.

Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins, founder of the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Lifers, says that juveniles on trial too often make the “developing brain” argument, and it’s not always properly used. Neuroscience shouldn’t equate to a criminal pardon, she says. And some crimes, such as murder, are so heinous that the people committing them deserve to lose their freedom – even if they’re kids.

Lawmakers agree – though the debate is close. This summer in California, the  Assembly rejected a statewide ban on life sentences without parole for juveniles in a 36-38 vote. The bill’s author, State Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco, plans to continue his fight. “Those who voted against this bill voted against our children and were blind to the fact that kids deserve a second chance and should not be sentenced to die in prison,” Yee said in a statement. “ I will not give up on California’s youth or this bill.”

What do you think?

How far should juvenile sentencing restrictions go? Is it unconstitutional to lock up teenagers for life, no matter their crime? Or should life sentences remain an option? If you were a judge, how would you rule on the case in Pennsylvania?  If you were a California legislator, would you support Sen. Yee’s bill? Join the discussion!
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Cassandra Banchich
ms gates/Burkholder
since they think they will not get in much trouble. Let’s say that a 13 year old boy kills one of his classmates and only gets sent to jail for 5 years. I don’t think that’s fair to the family who lost their son. He should be sentenced way longer since he actually killed another person and knew what he was doing. Everyone should be responsible for their own actions. If they can honestly have the feelings to kill someone and then actually go through with it then they deserve a justified punishment. Depending on the crime, I feel that a juvenile could be sentenced for a long time. If the crime was murder then they should have to pay for it by being locked up for a while. I think that the life sentence still should remain an option for juveniles who commit heinous crimes. If I were a judge on the case in Pennsylvania I would sentence the 14 year old boy to life in prison without parole. The boy could’ve been pressured to kill or forced to but we don’t know. All we know is that he did kill him and it wouldn’t matter anyways, because he still killed somebody and should be punished for what he decided to do. If I were a California legislator, I would not rule in favor for Yee’s bill. In my opinion I don’t think we should pass that law. It is completely useless to only put them in juvenile protection for only a few years because they'll probably go back to how they were before. Life sentences are an option from the time you decide to kill someone, to when you kill someone, but then after you've killed someone it’s not an option anymore.

henderson nevada
mrs gates/ burkholder
A 14 year old boy has murdered a person should he be sentenced as an adult or as a child. The law states that you can’t be tried until you’re 18 do you agree. I think that no matter the kids age they should have the same time in jail when they are in there teens. This is because you know what you are doing is wrong you don’t just go somewhere and start shooting people you have a sense of right and wrong even if your brain is still developing. If they are not sent to jail for the same time as an adult they will probably do it again until they get the right punishment. They deserve more than just a warning or to go to juvenile court. The more severe punishments we give to kids who know what's wrong the less crime that there will be. Teenagers killing, mugging, and getting caught up in gangs shouldn’t get 3 to 7 years in the Juvenile Detention. Life sentences should be an option from the time you decide to kill someone to when you kill someone, but then after you've killed someone it shouldn’t be an option anymore. You are able to drive at the age of 16 so you have the responsibilities to drive so if you have those adult rights you should be able to get sentenced the same as an adult gets sentenced. If I was the judge I would ask him why he killed this fellow teen and was he influenced

henderson, nv
Gates, Burkholder middle school
A 14-year old murdered a fellow teenager, should he be tried to life in prison? The argument is, that you shouldn’t be allowed to be tried as an adult until you are an adult (18+). What’s your opinion? Juvenile sentence needs to go as far as it has to. If you commit an adult crime you need to face your consequences. If you commit an adult crime and you know better than you need to be tried as an adult. Juveniles do not need less severe punishments just because they're younger. I believe children of the ages 13+ should be sentenced as adults. If they are not tried as adults, they won't think what they did was wrong and they might even do it again. There are juveniles that are murdering their friends, parents, and siblings. If there are restrictions about how they are tried, kids might feel like they can do whatever they want without being severely punished. If we even go as far as the death penalty, the minors that are committing crimes will begin realize that they should not be doing dumb things like stealing, murdering, and other cruel crimes. The life sentence needs to remain an option for cruel juvenile crimes.

Mr. Hannah/Stroudsburg JHS
First of all, WOW. That was stupid. Teenager kills teenager and DOSENT GET SENTENCED! Seriously! If he's a teen, then he probably knows what he's doing is bad by now! It's not rocket science! Seriously is society breaking down right now?! I give. I give. You get my point.

Stroudsburg Pa
Mr.Hanna/Stroudsburg jhs
I think that kids no matter the age. If someone is 5 and a 12 year old and they both did murder they should have the same time in jail

Stroudsburg PA
Mr. Hanna/Stroudsburg JHS
I think older kids, like my age, should be sentenced like adults. They do not need less severe punishments just because they're younger. I think children of the age 12+ should be sentenced as adults. If they are not, they won't think what they did was wrong and they might do it again. Kids age 12 know that crimes like murder are cruel and illegal. They deserve more than just a fine, or to go to juvenile court, even if it's the death sentence. The more severe punishments we give to kids who know what's wrong, the less future underage crimes there will be.

Stroudsburg, PA
Mr. Hanna/ Stroudsburg JHS
I think that kinds of any age should have the same sentencing as adults. There are some kids that are murdering their friends, parents, and siblings. If there are restrictions, kids might feel like they can do whatever they want without being severely punished. If we even go as far as the death penalty, the minors that are committing crimes will most likely realize that they should not be doing dumb things like murdering, stealing, and mugging. It is completely useless to only put them in juvenile protection for a few years because they'll probably go back to how they were before.

Mr. Hanna Stroudsburg
I think the sentencing should go as far as 15. That way you can get out and still be with family. But if your 18 your parents are going to kick you out of the house, then he/she would be on there own.but on my opinion, that it really depends on their action and behavior of when to get out.

Murrieta ca
Bianca Munoz
Mr. Jabro/ Creekside
i believe sentencing teenagers should at least go up to 25 years. Although there are teens committing murder and injury to other people, it could've been from pressure. nobody truly knows how it happened. Other people could had probably framed the teen so they don't get in trouble. Some people learn from their mistakes i think everybody deserves a second chance. Everybody is innocent until proven guilty, but if the child had committed many crimes before then it should definitely be life, not death penalty so that way they can think about how wrong it was to kill innocent people.

Murrieta Ca
Stephanie Folston
Mr. Jabro Creekside High school
No mercy. All the way to the death penalty in my opinion. It is totally constitutional to lock up teenagers for life, no matter the crime. We have teenagers killing, mugging, and getting caught up in gangs and all we do is give them 3 to 7 years the Juvenile Detention Center. Life sentences are an option from the time you decide to kill someone, to when you kill someone, but then after you've killed someone its not an option anymore. Its more like too bad. If i was a judge i would rule on the case in Pennsylvania death row because he killed somebody so i think he deserves to sit in line waiting for his turn as a victim just like the kid he killed. I would not support Sen. Yee's bill if i was a California Legislator. The kid he shot only got one life the the killer gets one chance. and i think the same should go for the cases to come. God Forbid.

Stroudsburg PA
Livia M.
Mr. Hanna Stroudsburg Junior High
I believe that any human under any age should be prosecuted as an adult. We were/are all born with brains and are capable of making decisions very quickly in our life. If a 16 year old can go become a solider and make quick medical decisions in the name of our country we can be sentenced as adults. As cruel as it sounds, it is only fair and rash, in my opinion, that we do this. If we can drive at 16, we can hold responsibility for ourselves. After all, kids always demand to be treated as adults.

Chicago ill
Mr.s Sims/ Marquette Elm.
I feel that, the age of 18 is a fair age when comes to. The sentencing of life and death.

sidney montana
Tristan Potts
Mr Faulhaber
I think when you are a juvenille you should not be able to be sentenced life. I think a few years is fair because they are young and give only one warning for something that is not a huge charge. You should be given a chance not just sent to jail for the rest of your life when your a juvenille. That only goes to a certain point though. Some charges you get like homicide, you should be able to be charged as an adult though.

hey take him to juvenile kk right now please say yes

juvenile sentencing should last about a year or two. but it also depends on what they did . for example, if a under aged student was caught smoking weed i believe that they should last in a detention center for about six to seven months for their first warning,and if it continues they should add @ months longer to every time. but for criminal issues should be about three to four years. so that is my opinion oh juvenile sentencing.

There should be a point where the court system realizes that the child understands the severity of the crime. If restrictions are too strict then the young felon will feel less of a threat when considering committing the crime again.

Rudyard, MT
Mis.Campbell, Northstar
If juveniles commit murder, they should be treated as a adult and face the fact that they killed someone and they going away for a long time. So if they did a small thing, they should go to pine hills

Belleville, NY
Colby; Belleville Henderson
Depending on the crime, I feel that a juvenile could be senteced for a long tmie. If the crime was murder then they should have to pay for it by being locked up for a while.

Maci Holst
Mr. Faulhaber
I believe when some one is still a juvenile that they should not be able to have life in prison. Our mind doesn't fully develop until the age of 25. Childern need a second chance in life, everyone makes mistakes. Sentencing for juveniles will make us citizens lose money, causing more prisons to be built. The taxes would also go up. Juvenile sentencing is WRONG

Sidney, M.T.
Brad Faulbher Sidney High School
If a juvenile commits murder they should get the life sentence because it would be considered a henious crime if they kill someone during their lifetime. They should not be allowed the chance for phrobition.

Mr. Metzger/ Montgomery
I believe even if you are under the age of 18 years old you should still be held accountable as an adult for your actions. Bye the time you are eight years old you should know the difference between whats right and wrong. Whether a minors brain is "fully developed" or not he or she should know better than to be involved in a gang or killing someone. I also beleive if you commit murder you should be held accountable for your actions and be sentenced to life in prison without parol. Either way teens killing others is beyond extreme. I don't care if a teens brain is “still developing”, if they can honestly have the feelings to kill someone and then actually go through with it then they deserve a justified punishment. To want to commit an adult crime, is to want to receive adult punishments. Everyone should be responsible for their own actions.

sidney MT
Mr. Faulhaber
So anytime weve tried to lower the drinking age it gets shot down. they dont approve it, saying that our minds do not fully develop until we are around 25. i would argue that putting a 14 year old in jail for the rest of his life is not fair based on the same fact of not having a developed mind. Quite often there are adults who get off or get lesser charges by saying they are insane or mentally impared, so how can you possibaly charge a 14 year old, undeveloped mind the same way that you would charge a 30 year old perfectly developed one?

Sidney MT
Mr. Faulhaber
I think that if you were a juvenile and you robbed a bank or killed someone, you should get the same punishment as someone else who did it. I don't think that since they are juveniles they should get a different punishment. Criminals should get the same punishments for similar crimes. Each punishment should be the same.

Sidney MONTANA!!
Ms Fontana
I think that if somone commits a crime, the crime should be carried over from juvenile to a adult court becasue someone who kills a juvinile should be charged the same as an adult

milwaukee wisconsin
i would send the boy to juvie but not jail


wessler/new castle chrysler hight school, New Castle/Indiana
I dated someone who was in juvenile for killing his step cousin and he was in there from 14 to 17 that's only 3 years and if your 18 you will go to actual prison and what i think if you comit a crime i think you should be charged as an adult i think thats far but what i also think is that thye should also have a poral hearing to see if they get out of prison on good behaveior or to see if they stay. That's just what i think.


Bradley/Nimitz, Irving/TX
As far as juvenile sentencing goes, there is a fine line of defining the mental state of the child committing a heinous offence. And without this definition, there can be no just sentence. Justifications should be put into place that delve into the home-life, parentage, and other influences that have come to shape the disturbed individual. Only then are you able to assess whether the teenager should be locked up at all, much less for life. And intermittently throughout their sentence, (should he/she be sentenced) be given a short form of parole, under strict observation and care. Therefore introducing the person back into society, one sip at a time, then reeling them back to the harsh world of jail, allowing them to see the consequences of their actions, and be able to see the life that they are missing outside of bars. Thus hopefully changing the outlook on life, and how to act/behave in society as a model citizen.


Bradley/Nimitz High School, Irving/Texas
Anyone committing a crime such as murder should be sentenced to prison. But if the murderer is a juvenile there should be some different measures taken. They should have life in prison and depending on the age they should have several years of counseling and a mental evaluation. Once deemed “OK” to inhabit society they should have some sort of probation for some time after. Some kids go through pretty crazy stuff in childhood, but with the correct molding they can be corrected and shaped into a fine citizen.


Mr.Frank 3rd/Northeast High, Philadelphia,PA
I think juveniles sentences should have restrictions because alot of times we do with out thinking ans since our mind is not fully develop this could definitely play a part. A teenager life should not be taken away never having the chance of the outside world again. Some make mistakes wanting to correct them but never get the chance. Yes, they did commit the crime and need to do the time but it should be limits. Some kids act out! you never know what is going thru a person mind or life. A teenager may not know how to handle that and take it out in a bad way. Thingshappen. No its not right and yes someone special might get lost in the process but we all make mistakes whether their small or big. You just cant repeat those mistakes. Do you want teens locked up without a chance at life or even having a future?


Nimitz HS, Irving, TX
No matter how old you are, murder is still murder. Just because a minor isn't "fully developed", and is "easy to train" doesn't make them any less in the wrong for committing such a heinous crime. I fully agree with the sentence the 14 year old boy in Pennsylvania received. There have to be consequences for illegal actions, and those consequences shouldn't vary by age. Whether he is 14 or 41, he killed someone and deserves to be duly punished.


Alexander, Nimitz, irving, tx
I think that offenders should not be protected if they violate the laws if they understand what they are doing. If a 17 year old uses his gun to kill someone and he committed the crime being fully aware of the consequences should be tried as an adult. THe punishment should not bwe determined by the age but by how mature the the minor is.


Sidney High, Sidney, MT
Well i think what everyone else thinks about this subject. I guess it all depends on what the crime was. If the minor killed someone, well they should be put away for life. Just like Kaitlyn said if your old enough to kill someone, u are old enough to be be put away for life. And for other crime i guess it depends on how serious they were. Smaler crimes maybe spend a night in jail, and lots of community service, and if they keep doing it, double the jail time, and double the community service time.


Nimitz High School, Irving, Texas
Juvenile sentences should not be limited because no matter the age, the act speaks for itself. If a fifteen year old had access to a gun and decided that he/she wanted to kill his/her parents and brothers/sisters at night while everyone was asleep, then he/she would do it with no hesitation. Should this juvenile be charged with forty years in prison or should he/she be charged with a life sentence with no chance of parole? It all depends on what the juvenile did and the degree of the crime. I would go with the life sentence with no chance of parole because it was a brutal murder. Children and teenagers alike understand the preservation of life. They know that once someone is gone, they cannot come back. They must admit to their crimes and man up for their acts. Regardless of age, every criminal act committed should be treated equally. Cruel and unusual punishment does not mean sentencing a child to life in prison. It means that the court cannot rule to hang the convicted criminal or anything inhumane as such. I am not trying to say that sentencing a juvenile to life in prison should be limited to only murder cases. What I am trying to say is that juveniles should be tried in court as an adult for any and every crime because doing so will open their eyes to the world. It will bring them back to reality. If a juvenile knew that they would not be tried as an adult in court for robbing a bank, then it would give them more of a reason to do so. For feeble crimes such as stealing or running a red light, the juvenile has no need to be tried in court as an adult because the court sees no harm in it. Our courts today seem to have a soft side for children and teenagers. If you are under eighteen years of age then you'd have a better chance of getting a twenty year sentence because of what you did rather than a sixty year sentence, which brings up an important case that caused much controversy. On February 20, 2009, an eleven year old boy named Jordan Brown used a 20-gauge shotgun to kill his father's girlfriend, Kenzie Marie Houk. He was charged with two counts of homicide because Kenzie was not the only one that was murdered. She was eight months pregnant. A life that could have been and a life that had been was now gone. This case is still pending because no one knows whether or not the boy should be tried as an adult or as a juvenile. It is quite obvious in my eyes. He should be tried as an adult, but not everyone sees it this way. In any matter, if children knew that their punishment would not be as bad as an adult's punishment then it would encourage them more to do wrong rather than right.


Airika B.
Sidney high school, Sidney
I really think it depends on what degree of crime they do. if it is minor i dont think they should be punished harshly. but if they are murdering people , yes i beleive it shouldnt be a minor punishment.


Trinity High School, Washington,PA
I believe that the punishment for juvenile's is exactly where it needs to be. In no way should a juveile ever be executed for a crime, but if they commit homicide then by all means put them in jail for life.if you are old enough to kill another human being then you are old enough to be put in jail for the rest of your life. as far as other crimes, yes they should be made to serve time and possibly be made to do community service, but that time in jail may help them realize their mistakes and they could learn and grow as a person.


Sidney high school, Sidney
I think it all depends on what the person did. I think that they should be given a break for lesser crimes. we are all still growing at this age and we make alot of misstakes and all wanna be popular and fit in. I really done think for the smaller stuff that juveniles should pay for a long time but what is fair on there sentencing.


Sidney High School, Sidney, MT
I think it all depends on what the kid did. I don't think they deserve such a big punishment for some of the lesser crimes. Like Bryan said, we are all still growing, we make alot of mistakes.


Krissa J.
Sidney High School, Sidney, MT
I feel that juveniles shouldn't be executed for crimes, but if they do commit something as bad as murder then they for sure should be put in prison for life. Yes, we still are growing up but we still know what were doing and right from wrong! It's not ok for someone under 18 to commit homicide and somone over 18 to do the same thing and get different punishment.


sidney high school, sidney montana
i think if you do the crime you should do the time even if your under 18. your the one doing it you shouldb have control over your self even if your young, if you kill someone you shouldnt have a chance to come back out an do it agian,


Sidney High School, Sidney, MT
A lot of teenagers who commit crimes at that early of an age are often a part of gangs or other crime groups. A lot of children are initiated at an early age and somewhat brainwashed. I feel that the age is a big factor in life sentences, obviously a lot 12-15 year olds can not be held accountable for their actions, and there should be a way to rehabilitate them to function normally in society.


Binghamton, NY
As far as Batts' case is concerned, a 14 year olds mind may still be in development but by that age you know weather or not it's wrong or right to take the life of another person. I agree with sending him to jail for life because if you purposefully take someone’s life then why should you only get a slap on the wrist and go off your merry way? I believe that if you kill someone you should eighter have your life taken or waste away in cell the rest of your life. As for Senator Yee's bill, I can understand that you would want to give the child a second chance but what if they take another life? Sometimes is just better to be safe than sorry, "I didn't think it would happen again." isn't going to bring a person back from the grave...


Nimitz High School, Irving, TX
Rebels, trouble-makers, miscreants: adolescents are stereotyped as over grown children who mock authority and are a burden to society. Although some teens seem to deserve whatever punishment officials deem necessary, it is neither fair nor reasonable, to put the “bad ones” behind bars for life for a crime they were more than likely peer pressured into or felt they had no choice. By throwing a teenager into jail for life, a developing adult is stripped from second chances and denied the ability to prove himself worthy of eventually benefiting society. And, yes, it's true – teens are still learning and sometimes don't have the ability to think before they act. It all has to do with psychology; a part of the brain is still developing. Teenagers are still maturing in high school, but by the time they graduate, they should know right from wrong. No excuses. Practice forgiveness, not brutality.


Mary S.
Nimitz High School, Irving, TX
For juvenile sentencing, I think that punishment should go no further than life in prison. Enforcing the death penalty on teenagers is not the best idea, I consider it to be under the 8th amendment as “cruel and unusual punishment”, and life without parole fits under the same umbrella. The cruelty of the crime the teenager commits should determine the penalty, and if it's serious enough to even bring up the subject of life in prison, then they probably deserve it. I would have done the same thing as the judge in Pennsylvania, because the kid knew what he was doing, but he should be given the chance to be released if he shows that he truly has changed. If I was a California legislator, I would have accepted the bill because juveniles need to be given the chance to turn their life around.


Nimitz, Irving, TX
I think the restrictions have gone too far. While 18 is when one becomes a legal adult, it isn't when they become rational of what they are doing. I can understand not wanting to arrest a 5 year old for stealing something but a 15 year old would know all to well that what they are doing is wrong. There is no difference between a 17yr and 355 days and an 18yr old. While it's true that sometimes a juvenile can sometimes be tried as an adult for more heinous crimes, a 14 year old knows it's wrong to beat someone up so they should be tried for it. The 18th amendment may protect against cruel and unusually punishment, but doesn't the 5th amendment guarantee a fair trial? Fair for both the victim and the perp. So to let a 16yr old walk after breaking into someone's house, how is that fair to the owner?


Monica A.
Nimitz High School, Irving, TX
I believe that if a juvenile commits an unpardonable crime then they should be properly punished in order to ensure that they understand that their actions were wrong. I don't think that they should be sentenced to life or to execution, but their punishment should be more than just a slap on the wrist. If a juvenile commits a murder, the victim's family will want justice for their loss. If a juvenile is capable of taking a life then he/she should be just as capable of being punished for the crime that they committed.


Lucy V.
Nimitz High School, Irving, TX
Teenagers nowadays always wanted to be treated like adults in many aspects of life so it makes sense for them to be tried like adults too. I don't think that a murderer can be excuse from the laws and their proper punishments just because he or she is a minor. There are exceptions but most of the times, bad-doers are teenagers who is in control of their actions and they should be punish for it. A life for a life, regardless of age.


Nimitz High School, Irving, TX
Juvenile restrictions shouldn't go much farther past that of adults. They know the crime that they committed and they know their punishment. At least, if the child is over at least 10. Before 10, these children could really have no idea what in the world they're doing. Over 10 (which is about middle school age), children are more aware of what they are doing and how it is wrong. Of course, mental health is a factor too. Not health as in if the person is insane or not, but like mental disabilities. I wouldn't call the locking up of teenagers so much unconstitutional as it is unethical. They are not adults, so the rules are different for them. If anything, the general rule should be that if they commit first-degree murder, which would probably give them either the death penalty or life if they were an adult, they should have the punishment of second-degree murder. Of course, it varies from case to case, that's just as a general rule. No child should get life because they should be able to experience some adulthood, even if that's whenever they're 80 years old. So no, I don't really support the ruling behind giving a child a life sentence in the Pennsylvania case. That child will learn his lesson after many years, and if he is released in old age, I'm sure he'll decide to do something better with his life later on instead of trying to go out and ruin it more.


Nimitz High School, Irving, Texas
I believe that no matter holw young you are, you deserve a second chance at life because you made one fatal mistake, that doesn't mean that life has to end. As humans, we were born imperfect and I just think it's wrong for a treen to be sentence to life in prison because of that stupid mistake. The Courts should at least give the criminal teen a chance to redeem themselves. However, if the teen thinks that they were adult enough to commit murder, then they should stay in prison to pay for their crimes to society.


Nimitz High School, Irving, Tx
I Think that kids shouldn't receive life without parole. In my opinion it's giving them no chance to change. However, who really deserves a second chance after they took someone's life away? With other crimes they should be handled differently. The judgment part of the brain is the last thing to develop in teens, but that doesn't take away from the fact that they committed murder. If I were the judge in that case, I would sentence the young man to life with a possibility of parole. It's a very touchy subject, because the people supporting the teens have an emotional connection, and those in support of the law don't.


Nimitz High School , Irving, TX
In my opinion, teenagers have as many rights as an adult does. When turning 18, that's the technical turning point of being called an actual adult. When discussing the whole arguement 'what sentencing is too far' the answer the that question all goes back to the fact that teenagers usually want to be treated as adults so why not sentence them like one? Yes, turning 18 is, like I said, the technical restriction of being a true adult but yet these teenagers that don't want to face their sentencing because they aren't "adults" yet. I'm pretty sure 'you' just said you wanted to be treated like an adult, that kind of contradicts what you just said. It's common sense that you should pay the price for your mistakes, that's including if you kill somebody, no if's, and's, or but's! They might be minors, but they still should take the consequence of their actions.


Tiffany R.
Nimitz, Irving
I think that these juvenile children should be sentenced for life with parole because if they did the crime then they should be doing the time. They should know there consequences when they commit the crime. I do believe that the boy in this case should be sentenced for life because if he had enough courage to kill someone then he can have the courage to deal with the problems of it his entire life. I do agree with the bill from California for only certain crimes. I think that when someone has enough bravery to do something that dangerous then they should be sentenced for the rest of their life.


Nimitz High School , Dallas, Texas
Many lines have been drawn by our government in order to support or outlaw certain practices involving children, such as child labor, driving, drinking age, voting age, joining the army age, etc. The Supreme Court has also made a line between punishments for minors and punishments for adults. While kids are punished less than adults for the same crime; however, there are certain events that make this line almost disappear. Murder, for example, is a current debate in our courts now. If a juvenile murders someone, he or she may receive life in prison, but will have parole if this punishment is chosen, but an adult will receive life in prison with no parole, or in a rarer case, death row. I believe that juveniles should receive the same punishments as adults, because no matter what, stealing is stealing and murder is murder. The punishment of life without parole for a minor should not be unconstitutional, because even though everyone deserves second chances, not every crime falls under this belief in my opinion. In the book “No Country for Old Men” the book begins with Sheriff Bell recalling an inmate who was about to be executed. He remembered the inmate saying that if he was released, then he would go kill another. If I were to judge the Pennsylvania court case, then I would fully support the current sentencing or push for a more severe punishment. Under no circumstances would I support the Yee's bill, because who would want to help murders? I don't.


Nimitz, Irving, TX
When you ask “how far should juvenile sentencing restrictions go?”. To that I say it is quite obvious. Teens, like adults, are still human beings who should be held accountable for all the crimes that they commit. Yes, people may make the argument about how teen's minds are still developing and need time to figure out who and what they will be in this world, but I think that excuse is quite pathetic. With today's society, teens consider themselves to be adults anyway. Always trying to look older and even talk like they're older than they really are. So why not the government treat them like adults and punish them the same way? Especially with heinous crimes, as mentioned before in the other comments, like murder and other unspeakable acts, juveniles and adults should all be treated equally. To the eighth amendment, about the protection from cruel and unusual punishment. Hasn't that been violated already with the executions that have happened so far in this country? So why protect teens from the same crimes that adults commit? These are all questions that I think should be thought out. And for those who still want to stick with the theory of the developing mind of teens, to that I say the government should first give tests to the juvenile to determine if they were sane or not when committing the crime. Then from there, they should choose what punishment to implement. That should satisfy everyone's needs.


Nimitz HS, Irving, Texas
In my opinion, a crime is a crime, no matter what the age. Age is just an excuse for not knowing any better. Most people have known the difference between right and wrong since the toddler stage of life. It is obvious that even at the age of 17 and 364 days old, one is consciously aware of the decision he/she makes. Although this juvenile may see the world in a different way, that is no excuse to break the law. If a teenager, and an adult as well, would go to such great measures to break the law, then he/she deserves the punishment that goes along with it. If teenagers were given the same consequences as adults, maybe the teenage crime rate would go down. At this point, teens think "nobody can do anything about it because I'm a minor." Maybe without this mentality, there would be significant rise in teenage morale and behavior. So as far as juvenile sentencing restrictions go, I think that the lack of restrictions would be best. If they are not treated as adults, we as Americans are just fueling the fire, almost encouraging teens to rebel before the big 18th.


Nimitz High School, Irving, Tx
I feel that if a teen has the brain to do an adult crime, then they deserve an adult punishment. I only feel this way for crimes related to homicide though. I also do not believe in the death penalty, I think it is too cruel. A life time in prison is almost like the death penalty, I feel that is all that is necessary. Getting the death penalty for killing someone is like a double negative to me, no matter what somebody dies when I feel that no one should. Either way teens killing others is beyond extreme. I don't care if a teens brain is “still developing”, if they can honestly have the feelings to kill someone and then actually go through with it then they deserve a justified punishment. To want to commit an adult crime, is to want to receive adult punishments. Everyone should be responsible for their own actions. This may seem harsh but I do not feel like they should be treated differently because of age. Its never right to kill another person, and obviously something is wrong with their brain in the first place. It really blows my mind how anyone can have the want to kill another person, especially someone as young as fourteen.


Nimitz, Irving, TX
I think that juvenile sentencing restrictions, while well-intentioned, are not right. To the people who's families were affected by teen murders--or, as in the case in Pennsylvania, teen gang members-- losing a loved one because of a teen or an adult makes no difference. Crimes are not always black and white, and while the courts should keep in mine that outright heinous offenses like murder or shooting or terrorist activities should be dealt with accordingly, I do believe that if we are willing to relieve the juvenile sentencing restrictions we should also be willing to offer psychological and therapeutic sessions so that professionals can help form the developing minds of our imprisoned teens. In conclusion, if I were a legislator in California, I would not support Senator Yee's bill, because I disagree with juvenile sentencing restrictions for individuals that commit heinous crimes. I would propose a bill that recognizes the obvious psychological and mental needs of these individuals.


Nimitz, Irving, TX
Juvenile sentencing should have some restrictions but a crime is a crime regardless of age. It doesn't matter to the victim how old the offender is, the crime isn't any less severe if a 16 year old killed someone compared to a 50 year old that killed someone. Although, I do believe that it is unconstitutional to lock up a teenager, everyone deserves a second chance and when you are young, you tend to make mistakes but then you learn from it and become a better person. To lock up someone that is underage would be depriving them of a real life. I think after the age of 18, then life sentences should be an option because at that age if you can't think for yourself then there is something wrong. If I was the judge in Pennsylvania, I would have sentenced the kid to decades of community service and maybe some classes to teach him whats right and wrong.


Nimitz High School, Irving, TX
I think that juveniles should be protected from the justice systems, but only to a certain extent. A juvenile brain is still developing, so their way of thinking is still different. A lot of these kids are exposed to too many bad examples. They don't exactly know what is not alright to do. Still, once a juvenile hits the age of about 17, they are pretty aware of what is not acceptable to do. There's just some crimes that teenagers do that should be treated like any other adult. It's not fair that some juveniles can get away with something serious and get less of a punishment because they are under 18. If I was the judge in Pennsylvania I would see if this boy had changed and had a different view of life to determine how I would rule.


Alx D.
Nimitz High School, Irving Tx.
I think that a juvenile should still be protected from the justice system. They're still young and they see the world differently, some people have grown up wrong and don't exactly know what's right, nor have the mind to think for themselves. However, what I do see as wrong is why the system goes directly from being safe under 17 and then able to be sentenced as soon as you do turn 18. I think the change should be more gradual. As far as I'm concerned, you don't become suddenly more aware of your actions the day you turn 18. Maybe if it guadually changed the restrictions as someone got older, then it would fit the growing mental state of teenagers.


Nimitz High School, Irving/TX
Once again America, you have failed to protect the country. This country is declining in its moral values. Just because someone committed a crime when they are a juvenile, it does not mean that they should be punished less. They committed a crime and now they should pay for it no matter what they did. If you are old enough to think that you can do adults do then you should be tried as an adult. All this special treatment involving age restrictions is just giving juveniles and excuse to commit more crimes, allowing them to think that they can get way with anything. Maybe if this country would crack down, take a hardline approach, maybe the nation would not have a rise in gangs, violence, and drug abuse. Maybe young people wouldn't be as tempted to commit crimes in the first place if they realized they could be jailed for life or even better executed for what they have done. You should pay for what you have done. Looking at another way, some say these juveniles don't know what is right or wrong. I say this may be true but I ask the questions, does it matter if they know what is right or wrong, or that they know what a crime is and what acts are labeled as a crime.


Erlind M.--> Mr. Frank 8th pd.
NEHS, Philadelphia, PA
It is wrong to put juveniles for life in prison for committing crimes. In my opinion they deserve a second chance. For committing any crime, juveniles should not be punished the same as adults because they don’t have the same responsibility. Juveniles are in the process of developing and learning, so they are not aware of what they do because they depend on the community and the family that surrounds them. The people around them have an impact on what they do. The punishment that juveniles should receive is not closing them up in prison for life, but only for few years. Putting them in prison for few years also helps on reeducating them in the right way.


Sidney High School, Sidney,MT
I think someone under 18 should spend some time in jail but not put away for life. Sometimes its not their fault completely. I think a young teeneger should just get a little time and alot of community service.

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