Issues and controversies

The debate regarding whether juveniles should be incarcerated in adult penitentiaries or not has been going on for decades. Everyone seems to portray a different perception on the matter. Some say the government is too lenient on the law and allowing children under the age of 18 to be sentenced to prison. Others feel it is necessary to send someone of any age to adult jails if the crime is heinous enough. There are even people who feel the law needs to be changed to 21 years old rather than the current minimum 18 years of age law. No matter where you go, there is always someone who views this subject differently, due to the wide array of possible arguments.

Certain groups have different opinions on this topic, depending on a few key factors. Occupational status, society, and personal affairs all effect one’s perceptions on Juvenile Justice. After researching this topic for months, I have realized that the best articles are scribed by authors who haven’t had a personal affair regarding juvenile sentencing. The ones who do, tend to be a bit biased, and loose my faith in how credible they are. They tend to tell you more about why they are right and how this has effected their lives, rather than giving concrete facts to do the talking for them. The top articles are those presented by people in the field of criminology who rely on facts to get their point across.

In addition to the logical aspect of articles, I also enjoy when authors use ethical rhetorical strategies when portraying their arguments. Most of the New York times and scholarly articles use either the logical or ethical aspect of writing. This is why I tend to believe these are more credible than those that use pathos. Using emotion to persuade the audience to feel for you isn’t a good source of information. Facts and ethics bring more to the table than the use of emotion.

One such author who uses these appeals is Charles Stimson, the author of “There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Age Limit for Who Can Be Tried as an Adult” and senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and manager of the National Security Law Program for Heritage’s Davis Institute for International Studies. In this article, Stimson talks about his views on the subject of juveniles being sentenced to adult penitentiaries. He believes there shouldn’t be an age minimum, and people should be tried and convicted based solely on the crime they committed. To support this opinion, Stimson researches a case involving a teen who committed a severe crime. According to Stimson, “Or another case from 2002, that decided a 16-year-old boy from Tucson would spend his life in prison for murdering a mother and her two young children as he stole their car” (2). He then follows this statistic with, “These teenagers deserved to be prosecuted in adult court” (Stinson 2). Stinson doesn’t state his opinion on the matter until he lays down a logical appeal. Once this is done, his opinion sounds more accurate.

On the other side of the spectrum, policy director for the Campaign for Youth Justice Carmen Daugherty wrote, “No One Younger Than 18 Should Be Tried as an Adult.” As stated in the title, Daugherty doesn’t believe in juveniles under the law stated age of 18 being tried as adults. She believes incarcerating juveniles too early into adult prisons will have an effect on their brain development. Also, she believes juveniles will be less likely to become double offenders when given help that supports youth development. According to Daugherty, Youth placed in the adult system had 34 percent more re-arrests, and often, at faster rates and more dangerous levels” (2). Facts like these are what Daugherty uses to support her views. Although Daugherty and Stimson have completely opposing views, they use similar tactics to get their point across.

As a whole, I feel both of these authors give great points to this debate. Each one uses a logical appeal to back up their opinions. They both bring up major issues and controversies regarding juvenile justice. Both their occupations pertain to this subject, making them a reliable source to voice their viewpoints. I do, however, believe Daugherty did a better job in getting her point across, due to her abundant use of statistics. They both used the logical appeal, but Daugherty used it to a fuller extent than Stimson, making her point get across in a more successful manner.