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Kids In Adult Prisons

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Sentencing Kids to Adult Prisons Is Like Throwing Them to the Wolves

By Megan Newell

Kids who commit serious crimes should not go scot-free. If society doesn't recognize them as adults until the age of 18, why do kids suddenly become responsible as an adult when they commit a crime? Children have as much business in a prison as they do a bar. Yet, twenty-three states have no minimum age. Two, Kansas and Vermont, can try 10 year old kids as adults.

An adult tried and convicted of first-degree murder can be sentenced to life in prison with out parole or possibly the death penalty, depending on the laws in the state where the crime was committed. This means that a juvenile tried and convicted of the same crime in adult court faces the same punishment. Since juveniles tried in the adult court get the same penalties as adults, they will receive little or no education, no mental health treatment, or rehabilitated programming.

Placing juveniles in adult penitentiaries subjects them to violence and sexual abuse. It also robs them of a chance to start over. Nationally, children in adult jails and prisons are 5 times more likely to be raped, twice as likely to be beaten by staff, and 50% more likely to be attacked with a weapon than youths sent to juvenile justice system. A Justice Department study showed that the suicide rate of children in adult jails is 7.7 times higher than that of youth in juvenile detention centers. Juveniles fading away in adult prisons have been pulled out of the real world during their most formative years. They are certainly not learning how to be law-abiding citizens by being abused by inmates three to four times their age. In my eyes, it could make them worse or even more aggressive. It could also lead to death.

In 1995, Rodney Jr. was charged with arson when he was 16 years old. He was tried and sentence as an adult. He was sentenced to eight years in an adult prison. His first year was spent in a prison in Abilene, Texas. He was then transferred to the Clemens Unit in Brazoria County. That is where Rodney Jr. was raped, beaten, and forced to perform sex acts. His request to be placed in protective custody was denied more than once. When Rodney Jr. asked for help, the guards brushed it off. Seventy-five days after Rodney Jr. entered Clemens, he committed suicide. He had finally put up with too much, which he would have never put up with if he was tried as a juvenile. He had fallen into depression where he acted on it and hung himself. (The Experience of a Child in a Texas Prison, By Rodney Hulin,



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