By Ramon Castellanos
The thirteen year old sat there crying, knowing that he was spending a life time in prison, his family members were heart broken, and not much could be done to get back in time. Just a few seconds back he was playing with fire trucks and now he will be spending a life time in prison or be sentenced to death. Could such child be held with such big responsibility as an adult? It is indeed unacceptable for such occurrence.
Have you ever wondered why a twelve, thirteen year old teenager is unable to go to a liquor store to buy beer, liquor? And are enable to smoke or watch R rated movies without an adults “OK”? That is because “they’re only kids.” They don’t have the same responsibilities as an adult does. “That is, until they foul up. Until they commit crimes. And the bigger the crime, the more eager to call them adults.” (Lundstron pg43) Appeals in the California court recently decided when to charge teenage offenders as adults, and so giving a lot of power to judges and not prosecutors. A judge has a lot of power and is able to make a lot of decisions and one of those decisions could affect a teenager for the rest of their life. What I am saying here is that kids are just kids, like the article, “kids are kids” by Marjie Lundstrom said, not adults. They are not fully mature, and are not fully developed to be adults.
I once though that we all teenagers were ignorant, that we didn’t understand anything, and that we were full of stupidity, but I came to realize that this wasn’t true. A research group from the University of California Los Angeles explained how “These frontal lobes, which inhibit our violent passions, rash actions, and regulate our emotions, are vastly immature throughout the teenage years.” (Thomspson, the Sacramento Bee). Having said this, we now know that when a young person such as a teenager makes a mistake or bad decision, that is due to the frontal lobes not fully being developed. They are super immature teens. The University of Los Angeles also discovered that during adolescence there is a massive brain tissue loss. “The loss was like a wildfire.” Our body grows and eventually we grow tall and strong, same goes to the brain, it grows and grows and gains more knowledge and understanding of things.
We are talking about death here, about life in prison, do you honestly think that this is a fair treatment for a human being? Nobody deserves to die, especially teenagers, at such young age, having to deal with such big responsibility, knowing that they are not ready to make decisions or hardly do anything big by themselves. Now “does planning mean the same thing for a thirteen year old with his diminished capacity for controlling erratic behavior, as it means for an adult?” (Thomson) of course not, an adult has the capacity to be independent and make his own decisions. That is why they are adults, that is why they have to decide weather to give the “OK” or not. Because they are adults and adults are not the same as kids, we all know that, and such behavior of a teen could be shaped, but not with death, with a punishment that would make them realize that they are wrong. Death is not the solution for anything. It only takes away someone’s life and breaks a family’s heart.
A teenager should not be convicted to death or life in prison. They are only kids and their brains are not fully developed to take the responsibility of an adult. It is the parent’s responsibility to watch out for their kids. The list of good and bad arguments goes on and on as weather a kid as young as thirteen years old should spend a lifetime in prison or have a death penalty. But a true fact is that no one deserves to die because we are all human beings. Specially a kid as young as twelve, thirteen, or fourteen, who’s life has just begun and has so many experiences to experience and so much life ahead of them.
http://www2.scholastic.com/content/collateral_resources/pdf/j/Juvenile_Startling_Finds_on_Teenage_Brains-Thompson.pdf (Thomspson, the Sacramento Bee)