Justice for Juveniles
By Amberly Clark
Former juveniles have served their time, so why keep punishing them? Former delinquents have a history of being denied jobs and proper housing even after time has been served. As a result, delinquents continue to find themselves in jail well into adulthood. Recognize juveniles as people, not bad people, not a harmful object, just a person. A colleague, someone who sits next to you on the bus. Juveniles are simply those who must steal to survive and must continue to do so due to the discrimination of today’s society.
Jade Bennett, a 17 year old girl from Pennsylvania, also an advocate for justice for juveniles said, “It started off as a school project. We had to come up with a solution to a major issue and my group chose mass incarceration. After doing some research we realized that children being placed in adult prisons was very prevalent in our justice system.” She later says that “Justice for Juveniles seemed like the right route to go.” Jade Bennett is currently planning on fundraisers and spreading awareness for juveniles, “In the next two weeks I’m planning on selling wawa coupons and all the proceeds made will he going to YASP (Youth Art and Self Empowerment Project) in Philly and BLM organizations” her work, though greatly underrated, can do wonders and she is only one out of thousands of others raising awareness for this cause, but what exactly is justice for juveniles?
The book, “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson gives insight on his experience with the ironic lack of justice in the justice system. Stevenson grew up in a poor black family, raised on the social justice of society. He grew up to go to Harvard Law school where he interned with the Southern Prisoners Defense Committee (SPDC). There he befriended Henry, a death row inmate, who brought a mirror to his eyes and showed him his passion for prison justice. Nationwide, African Americans represent 32% of the incarcerated children. Most of them like Stevenson, a poor black child who can’t afford bail, unlike the wealthy. Justice for Juveniles is a movement and right.
The dictionary claims a juvenile is “a person below the age at which ordinary criminal prosecution is possible (18 in most countries),” but there is so much to the word. To most unfortunate children, the word juvenile is a death sentence. Returns to custody range from 18 to 43 percent within two years, and 26 to 62 percent within three years. Once in the system, there is no escaping. A common misconception in life itself is that people don’t change. How can people be expected to change when they are not given second chances? For these children, being a juvenile means never getting a job, it means reverting back to the same things that got them in jail. Although it may be hard to admit, some children don’t get food and shelter unless they’re in jail. The connection between crime and poverty was once so much assumed that “criminal behavior and poverty were seen as synonymous in terms of the threat they posed.” These children should never be exposed to the cruelty in the justice system that they do. Donate to charities and fundraisers such as 17-year-old Jade Bennett’s to better the world we live in.
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Though the art of justice has been perfected over the many years of humanity, not everyone has been able to enjoy it as well as others. This is apparent in one of the most common forms of discrimination: a distaste for immigrants and people of color.
Did you know that certain crimes, if proveable require a certain amount of penance no negotiation? Some of them including possession of drugs and child pornography ranging from 5-40 years. You may think this is a reasonable punishment, but what if I told you that sometimes those who are convicted don’t have an opportunity to appeal in a court due to this federal law?
You may have heard of miranda rights, more particularly this line,”You have the right to an attorney, if you do not have one, one will be provided for you.” Those lawyers that are provided to juveniles who simply don’t have the money to afford a lawyer are called public defenders. They are paid to defend a multitude of people at one time, case after case due to the major pay dock between private firms and public defenders.