Crime Among Youth Essay, Research Paper
Crime among juveniles has risen gradually in the 1900 s. The young criminals have just recently begun to commit serious offenses within this and the last decade. Violent crime, usually associated with hardened adult criminals, but today young teenagers today are also involving themselves with these serious crimes. The juvenile court system lacks a constant manner of disposition. At times it lets murderers run free, while it could help others through counseling and specialized camps. The current juvenile judicial system does the best it can do for the juveniles and the state, but at times it fails to do so; the system does and does not at times do what is in the best interest of the juvenile and state. The story of two young teenagers from Edward Humes No Matter How Loud I Shout show how the current system today can help, and how it can hurt juveniles today.
Hardened criminals are usually associated with pre-meditated violent crimes. Having past experience with crime, these criminals have no hesitation when it comes to taking another human beings life. When, and if these cold-blooded killers are caught, justice serves its purpose. They are handed the longest and toughest prison sentence possible, but it makes people wonder how a young teenager could be responsible for a crime like murder.
Ronald Ducan comes from a good middle class family, and he was given opportunities that unfortunate children living in the ghetto do not receive. He attends high school, and his parents who are divorced, see him as their baby who has never given them an ounce of trouble. Ronald had no prior record, except for detention, or an occasional un-excused absence from class. His past cannot explain his actions one fatal night. Ronald, who worked at a Basket Robin s Ice Cream store, was given a ride home from his employers when he dispassionately murdered them. With a powerful shotgun, he shot one of his employers unexpectedly in the back of his head while he was driving. He then emptied the shotgun and reloaded it as his female employer was screaming, and without pity, shot and murdered her too. He grabbed the day s earnings and fled. The next day he bragged about his crime to his friends at school. His friends attest to hearing his story, which in their words was unadulterated. Ronald seemed as though he was boasting about the murder; even more sickening was the fact that he takes pride in it.
Ronald was apprehended for the double homicide a day after it happened. He was interrogated that night by officers, who made him confess to the murders. Later the confession would be thrown out because the detectives supposedly coerced it out of Ronald. Ronald would also boast in jail about how he would be let off with only a slap of the wrist. Ronald understood one thing, he knew he had one important thing many teenage offenders did not have, a technicality. Ronald committed his crime nine days before his sixteenth birthday making him a minor. A minor under the age of sixteen cannot be given a death sentence, and must be released with a clean record at the age of twenty-five. Whether or not Ronald knew about this at the time of the murder, Ronald knew later that it would be his saving grace.
A long legal proceeding dragged on for Ronald, where witnesses were presented and lengthy cross-examination sessions lasted. There was hard and tangible evidence against Ronald, along with a shocking testimony from his partner in crime. In all events Ronald Ducan was sentenced to a total of thirty years in jail, but in reality he could get out by the age of twenty-three where his first parole hearing begins. Ronald played his cards right, he knew he could not be sentenced to jail past the age of twenty-five, and with that he stuck to his alibi.
Ronald used the system and its discrepancies to his advantage. Ronald and his lawyers knew it was a win-win situation, the law was set and they knew it could not be a hypocritical in this case. The judges and prosecutor understood this too, making Ducan a boy who got away with murder. Ronald can return to his life in six to eight years without any prior criminal record. He still has a future he can pursue after his incarceration. The state on the other hand lost money trying to convict a boy they knew was going to be set free. Time was lost and in a sense justice was not served. A boy who is clearly mentally unstable will be set free into the generally public, making the world unsafe. The boy will have the mentality that he can get away with serious offenses. This case was a waste of everything to the state, their money, time, and manpower. Basically the state was hurt by Ronald Ducan, and the fact that more Ronald Ducans can emerge rests uneasily in minds of officials and citizens.
A solution to this loophole in the law must be made. There should be exceptions added to this law so that people like Ronald cannot get away with such crimes. In a sense the juvenile system is breeding young killers. Juveniles who are found guilty of gruesome premeditated murders should be sentenced as an adult. The motives of the child murderer should be examined carefully and if he or she is deemed as a threat to society should be tried as an adult. Petty offenses such as shoplifting can be tried under the original guidelines, but serious offenses must and should be tried to fullest extent disregarding age. In many cases children are freed from such offenses such as murder or rape, but to commit such a violent crime is difficult and devious. I believe that laws such as this one should not be able to put a hindrance on justice. In order to weed the bad apples from the bunch we must start early, whether they are under sixteen or over sixteen.
The barrio is a place where Mexican gangs claim as their territory. Kids fight for the right to call it their turf, and in many instances kill for the title. Carla James, a smart, beautiful, and overachieving girl who made an effort to stay after school to help teachers and administrators, found a niche in her barrio. She had a dual life, a caring schoolgirl with a bright future, and gangster life full of violence and hatred. After a day of school ended she would leave to pursue her life as a gang member, yet one night her life changed as she decided to fire a gun from a car. She was taking revenge for her homies ; she blindly shot from a car at a group of people. She didn t hit anyone but was charged with a drive by shooting. She was taken to court and was given a probationary sentencing. She was to not miss school and she wasn t able to associate with her gang friends.
Carla went home and instead of improving she got worse. Her grades were falling and she was getting more involved with her gang, Tepa-13 . She was tough and respected by her peers, and if any her friends were threatened she d be the first to retaliate. She immortalized her gang name onto her stomach as a sign of loyalty and pride. Her court order prohibited her to fraternize with the gang or its members, yet the tattoo embellished onto her stomach was clear evidence of her socialization with the gang, and it would soon send her to jail. On a routine traffic stop she was searched and was pinned as a hardcore gangbanger. A probation officer named Sharon Stegall recognized her and found that having a gang tattoo was grounds for a probation violation.
Carla was brought in and arrested for her violation. She was then sent to Judge Dorn s court. Dorn is notorious for harsh sentencing, and being staunch with his rulings. He is also known for caring about the individuals who enter his forum. In James case he felt that sending her to the California Youth Authority was a waste of time and money. He felt that Carla needed counseling and sent her to the Dorothy Kirby Center. At the center she was given attention to her needs. The authorities were caring and head strong enough to over power Carla s insubordination. There she met a counselor who could relate to her. They both came from a bad background that was filled violence. She also found a connection with this person because she was a woman too. Carla saw and heard how she turned her life around and was now successful and looking brightly into the future. Carla decided it was her turn to change for the good. She was in another words rehabilitated. Dorn who cared for her helped when he sentenced her to the Kirby institution.
The state and Carla were helped by the system, with the aid of Judge Dorn. Carla found a new life, where she took things seriously and has a future to look to. The state changed a threat into an advantage. Carla was not with her gang anymore causing havoc, and she could be useful as a contributing citizen. The state faired well with the outcome of this case, and money and time was well spent. The system did its jobs finding a solution in the best interest of the community, government, and Carla.
Its unfortunate that all judges are not like Dorn. If the judges all cared the system would be on a better track to success. I believe that all judges should be critiqued during hearings. They should be graded upon judgment, fairness, and personal involvement. It s only fair because the judges decide the futures of these juveniles, and the futures of all juveniles are still uncertain whether or not they committed a crime. Dorn should be made into the model judge for this test. Him caring about juveniles is important, but his strict decorum he believes juveniles should display is also very important. Most judges do not get involved with the cases, and treat them as obstacles of the day. An evaluation of all juvenile judges should be made in order to deem them suitable for judgment.
The juvenile judicial system is inconsistent with its laws and judges. Some laws make sense while others don t, while some judges care and some don t. The system has its drawbacks, and needs to correct them. In this situation we are judging the lives of children, which in reality are our future. We cannot gamble with the future of this state and country. Cases are taken lightly and laws simply do not make sense, for instance the age law Ducan used to weasel out of the system. The system is hardly perfect, but at times it is pristine, for instance Judge Dorn s manner of judgment. The inconsistency of the court system must be fixed, for the best interest of our kids and the state.