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Discussion Reply should be 500 words each and include correct usage of APA format, your Christian world view, and relevant in-text support for both. Also, include a reference at the conclusion of each
Discussion Reply should be 500 words each and include correct usage of APA format, your Christian world view, and relevant in-text support for both. Also, include a reference at the conclusion of each response in proper APA format
In the last decade, juvenile justice has emerged with more compassion and child-focused policies; with a decrease in crime, successful strategies for prevention and intervention identified, examination of the wiring of the adolescent brain, and a federal mandate established by the Attorney General to recognize and respond to children exposed to violence (Benekos & Merlo, 2019). The Supreme Court rationale behind Roper v. Simmons was instrumental in emphasizing that youth are different from adults and therefore require different sentencing (Benekos & Merlo, 2019).
Christopher Simmons started talking about wanting to murder someone when he was 17 years old; on more than one occasion, he discussed with friends a plan to commit a burglary, tie up the victim, and push him or her from a bridge (Cox, Allen, & Hanser, 2018). Based on that plan, he and a younger friend broke into the home of Shirley Cook, bound and blindfolded her and then drove her to a state park, where they tied her hands and feet with electrical wire, covered her whole face with duct tape, walked her to a railroad trestle, and threw her into the river, which ended in her death (Cox, Allen, & Hanser, 2018).
In this case, the Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional when applied to juveniles who were under 18 years of age at the time of their crime (Sherman & Jacobs, 2011). In doing so, the Court acknowledged that youth are different from adults developmentally, making the death penalty disproportional to any crime a youth may commit (Sherman & Jacobs, 2011). The Court made specific developmental findings, that youth lack maturity and responsibility, which leads them to reckless and impulsive behavior; that youth are more vulnerable than adults to outside negative influences, generally negative peer influences; and that youth are changing and do not yet have fully developed characters or personalities and so may grow out of criminal behavior (Sherman & Jacobs, 2011). There is a hope that Roper marks a return to a developmentally informed juvenile justice policy in which it becomes more difficult to try and punish juveniles as adults, and in which laws governing interrogation, detention, trial rights, and sentencing reflect the reduced capacity of juveniles while respecting their rights to autonomy (Sherman & Jacobs, 2011).
In recognizing a difference in adolescent decision making, there is a differential evaluation of risk and reward, susceptibility to peer influence, short-term temporal focus, and inadequate self-regulation as noticeable evidence of immature development and the basis for diminished culpability (Benekos & Merlo, 2019). In other words, in the immature circuitry of the adolescent brain, a contest between the amygdala- the center for emotions, emotional behaviors, and motivation, and the prefrontal cortex- the center for cognition, decision making, and planning, the amygdala generally prevails; helping explain the impulsive, risky, dangerous, and gratification-seeking behavior that correlates to higher crime rates among teens and young adults (Benekos & Merlo, 2019). In Roper, the Court noted that juveniles are less blameworthy than adults because they are more immature and less responsible than adults, more likely to be influenced by external pressure including peer pressure, and more vulnerable in part because they have less control over the environment than adults (Benekos & Merlo, 2019).
I believe the long-term effects on the system will be positive with a shift in focus from the harshness of punishment to a much more accepted focus on the importance and need for treatment and change. I also can see it impacting the system on a negative front as well, in the sense that the accountability missing with the juveniles will be shifted to mental health and educational professionals, who will be given the task of getting these children (and eventually adults) ready for release back into the community, one day. In 2013, upon the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that mandated a minimum sentence of 25 years for anyone convicted of a first degree murder as a juvenile versus life behind bars, the 14 juveniles in the state of Delaware that were serving life without parole sentences were all resentenced, 5 being released- 4 of whom were supervised in the community by probation, and the others remaining behind bars (Associated Press, 2017). Charles Blizzard, who at the age of 17 fatally beat a man in 1982 was initially sentenced to life behind bars until that Supreme Court ruling. Charles, at the age of 49, was released in 2014, after approximately 32 years behind bars (Chase, 2017). Three years after his release back into the community, in 2017, a judge sentenced Charles to a year of probation after pleading guilty to offensive touching, a far cry from his initial crime in 1982 (Chase, 2017)
Growing up in jail is not something that anyone would aspire to, however, some get more structure, more education, more discipline, more knowledge, more love and nurturance than they would being raised by a parent or a family member. When a juvenile is sentenced to 25 years, it will be what he engages in, seeks out, learns from, and fine tunes within himself that will determine his success both in jail and once released. The duty of parenting these children, who become legal adults at the age of 18, falls on prison staff, to include correctional officers, counselors, nurses and doctors, court officials if he or she ever returns to court for additional charges while in prison, as some do, other inmates as well as the family members who will come to visit and interact with the prisoner. In those 25+ years, we can create a monster or we can create a productive law-abiding citizen who cares for others, has learned from his or her mistakes and aspires to be a positive change within the community he will be residing in. If you think of the alternative, life behind bars, that piece will not be there and the safety and security of the community is guaranteed, as least from the hands of this one individual. When we think about all of the people who will be involved in etching away at, conditioning, teaching, molding, modeling behaviors and attitudes for and influencing these teenagers and soon adults, we can’t forget to think about the tons of experiences playing a part, tons of dysfunction, faulty beliefs and morals, in addition to the good that could be absorbed by these inmates and one day, the next-door neighbor in your community. I’m not so sure which I prefer. I would hope that the juveniles who are imprisoned for 25 + years come out better than what they were when they entered however, that is not a guarantee. I can only hope and pray that in addition to the education and guidance they will receive while incarcerated these same individuals will also commit to a spiritual relationship with God, which will provide yet another accountability geared towards obedience and the love for mankind, all mankind. As for me, I am covered, by the blood of Christ and pray daily for the safety, security and well-being of my family, friends and loved ones. I don’t know who I’m living next to or across the street from, so my relationship with God, gives me the peace and comfort I need to live, without fear.
Sherman, F.T. & Jacobs, F.H. (2011). Juvenile justice: Advancing research, policy and practice. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Cox, S.M., Allen, J. M., Hanser, R.D., & Conrad, J.J. ((2018). Juvenile justice: A guide to theory, policy, and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Benekos, P. J., & Merlo, A. V. (2019). A Decade of Change: Roper v. Simmons, Defending Childhood, and Juvenile Justice Policy. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 30(1), 102–127. https://doi.org/10.1177/0887403416648734
The Associated Press. (July 2017). A state-by-state look at juvenile life without parole. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/9debc3bdc7034ad2a68e62911fba0d85
Chase, R. (July 2017). 14 juvenile lifers resentenced in Delaware cases. Retrieved from https://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2017/07/31/14-juvenile-lifers-resentenced-delaware-cases/524878001/