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Sentencing Youth Offenders to Adult Prison

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Each year, the number of juveniles that get convicted and are placed in the adult prison system is incredibly high. Personally, I do not believe that this has any benefit whatsoever. It is stated that young men/women who are sent to adult prisons are not only lacking education, but they also face physical danger on a day to day basis. This by itself can lead to huge problems. An example of one of these problems would be committing a crime again once released. It is so often that criminals, once released, go back to their old habits that got them landed in prison in the first place. Not only are they not introduced to skills that will benefit them on the outside, but the majority of the time nobody wants to take these individuals in due to their ill natures. Because of that these individuals go back to hanging out with the same troubling friend group.

There are a number of laws across the United States; which, supposedly provide every single juvenile the right to have an education. Those laws are not honored, however. In 2005, there was a survey done on adult prisons, and it was discovered that around 40% of these prisons provided no educational programs. This in itself is an outrage! Although many individuals who enter prison have no future of getting out wouldn’t it be practical to introduce shorter time offenders will skills that will benefit them on the way out? After all, aren’t prisons becoming overcrowded? The last thing we want is the same people coming back time and time again because they had no other path to take other than the dark one. Introducing prisoners with just certain and basic life skills would be more beneficial than what is normally given. Some of these skills can include cooking, cleaning, and basic educational subjects like math, reading, and writing. Another good skill to learn would be how to pay bills and do taxes, or since, these individuals are juveniles and most likely are not sure on how to operate motor vehicles, maybe provide drivers education programs! Any of these options would be far more ideal than simply throwing them in a cell 23 hours out of the day. The process of placing juveniles in adult prisons is a long road full of many obstacles. The first step in conviction is bringing them to trial. While awaiting trial; however, the majority of these individuals will spend roughly one full month in an adult jail. It is stated that only 1 in every 5 being convicted will have spent up to 6 full months in an adult jail before going to trial. To me, this is impractical because the individual has not yet been tried as an adult; therefore they should not be placed in an adult jail. Due to the differences in physical stature, testosterone, and knowledge between adults and young teenagers this can be a very dangerous road for these young men and women.

One of the biggest issues they face is being sexually battered or sexually assaulted. According to a study from the “National Prison Rape Elimination Commission”, juveniles are at the biggest risk for facing sexual batteries and assaults out of all the prison population. It is also stated by the “Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003” that within the first 48 hours of entering the system the majority of youth offenders will be sexually victimized. You would think that even though these individuals have been tried as adults that there would be some sort of accommodation. Maybe have higher security in the areas where juveniles are held. Another good solution would be to separate these individuals from the more dangerous crowds. There are mass amounts of powerful men and women in prison, and when I say “powerful”, I mean both physically and connection-wise. That all in itself is enough to put most Juveniles at a disadvantage. That’s not even counting the strength in numbers within many of the prison groups and gangs, so the sexual abuse can be from numerous individuals targeting one individual.

Another big issue that youths face when sent to an adult prison is mental abuse. Not only is this an issue because they have smaller mental capacities than adults, therefore do not possess the maturity to overcome it, but also there are less mental health programs that are available to them than there would be in a system for Juveniles. Again, this is a major issue because they have no idea as to what, or who to turn to so many of them succumb to their emotions and commit suicide. There are numerous acts of mental abuse, but one of the best examples that these young men and women face is that many of them are being placed in confinement. During this time there is no contact with anyone. It can become a very dark and lonely place. This would have a significant effect on the mental capacity of ANY individual let alone a young kid. As I stated earlier, it is important to provide programs that will benefit an individual once they are released. What’s also important is that these young individuals maintain their sanity while serving time. A great way to help in that situation is to provide company.

Now, obviously it is important that the company provided is monitored at all times. We don’t want potential issues, or any negative influence, but it is not such a bad idea to give these individuals someone to occupy their time. I prefer to stick within the age group; however, it is possible that given the sometimes large age gap between these individuals that maybe someone can provide these individuals with a Mother or Father figure. What is the real reason for placing young men and women in adult prisons? Do we feel as if it may set an example to other potential young offenders? Do we feel like it will deter further crimes from taking place? It is well known that when being sentenced, the punishment must match the crime that was committed. In other words, that is where the term “an eye for and eye” comes from. I personally believe it would make more sense to hold juveniles in the appropriate system until they reach the adult age of 18. Now, separating the more dangerous offenders from the rest of the population would be a more ideal alternative, but throwing them in an adult prison where their life is in jeopardy is not appropriate. Perhaps in the future the laws will change as they always do.

We will stop placing young offenders in high security prisons until they reach the appropriate age and perhaps come up with more ideal solutions. When young offenders in their youth are placed in adult prisons, they are introduced to a whole new level of potential problems than they would be had they been placed in a juvenile system. When interacting with the adults in prison they will learn more advanced hardcore ways of committing crimes. This can be a really big problem, especially if they make it out of prison. There have been cases where juveniles sent to adult prisons for not-so-serious crimes have come out even worse off than when they went in. They became real hardcore violent criminals.

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Sentencing Youth Offenders To Adult Prison. (2020, April 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 25, 2022, from
“Sentencing Youth Offenders To Adult Prison.” GradesFixer, 30 Apr. 2020,
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Sentencing Youth Offenders To Adult Prison [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Apr 30 [cited 2022 Sept 25]. Available from:
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