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The Contender
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Should Juveniles Be Tried and Treated as Adults?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/9/2016 Category: Society
Updated: 6 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 281 times Debate No: 89416
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
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I believe that juveniles should be treated as adults, with a lower punishment. My first reason for believing this is that if the juvenile had the mental capacity to commit the crime, then they are capable of paying the consequences. Second, juveniles already have an idea of what is considered right and what is considered wrong in their environment; whether the environment be the society, or their homes. Regardless, the young adult already knew which category that it would fit in. Lastly, I do believe that they should be tried and treated as adults, but perhaps with not as a serious punishment as someone over the age of 18. For example, a juvenile gets 5 years in prison rather than 8. A "discount" someone might say for being under the age of 18.


As courts in the United States allow juveniles as young as 10 years old to be tried as adults and placed in adult prison, my argument is based on the premise that 10-18 year old juveniles who commit crimes are not to be tried as adults nor placed in adult prisons.

I do not believe that juveniles should be tried or treated as adults. Simply because a person has the capability to do something does not mean they have all the mental awareness necessary to understand what the consequences of their actions are. You state "if the juvenile had the mental capacity...", how are you defining "if" and what constitutes mental capacity? In other words, how do you determine that the juvenile did have the mental capacity to commit the crime?

Again, though juveniles presumably know the difference between right and wrong that does not mean they do the "right" thing all the time any more than it means an adult does. They also do not have the mental capacity to determine the consequence for their actions nor do they necessarily have the ability to fight their impulses. You state that "juveniles already have an idea...", what do you mean by "idea"? Is having an idea of right and wrong the same as having concrete understanding of right and wrong? You then say "regardless, the young adult already knew which category that it would fit in"; are you then saying that all young adults know the difference between right and wrong?

Lastly, you imply the prison system is punishment. I assume you are referring to adult prison. Is not the purpose of prison to rehabilitate and not punish?
Debate Round No. 1


(I'm sorry for taking a while to reply, a was little preoccupied)

I accept your premise, you're saying that juveniles shouldn't be tried and treated the same as adults because they might not have all the mental awareness. If that were the case, wouldn't nobody have to go through the usual procedure of going to court and being sentenced as an adult? I believe that they are aware of their actions but underestimate the consequences. When I say that they have an idea, I mean that they have a notion of wrong and right in their mind, and the reason I say notion is because when it comes to the fine details everybody has a different perception of wrong and right but we all share the same general idea of them. I do believe that all young adults know the difference in between right and wrong; as a psychology major I have to believe that at some point in the early life of a human they learn the meaning of wrong and right somewhere whether it be on the media, parents, or the environment.

With that being said, I believe that everybody does has a conscious awareness of what they do. By the way, prison is a form a punishment by making people deal with the consequences of their actions, it is made in such scanner where people don't want to go back which makes it rational for me to think it would best fit in the category of positive and negative punishment.


It was not my intent to imply that everyone who commits crime is lacking mental awareness. My use of the term "mental awareness" was not clear. What I was attempting to convey is that juvenile brains are not fully capable of making adult decisions and, therefore, should not be held accountable in the same way an adult is. Scientific studies have shown that the brain of juveniles is not fully developed until roughly ages 20-23 (McCormick, Patrick T. "Fit to be Tried?" America Feb 11 2002: 15-8. ProQuest: n. pg. Web. 12 Oct. 2014 .) and that they lack the cognitive and emotional maturity of adults. Furthermore, juvenile courts understood this premise. They were designed not to punish a child/juvenile but to rehabilitate them; to show them the error of their ways and give them a fresh start. There will always be exceptions such as those who have mental disabilities and need to be treated differently.

Adult prisons are no place for juveniles. Studies have also shown a high rate of recidivism for juveniles placed in the adult system. According to the CDC the recidivism rate is as high as 34% for juveniles placed in adult prisons (McClard, Tracy. "The Mother of a Son Incarcerated in an Adult Prison Tells Why the System Fails Young People." Juvenile Justice. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 80-88. Print.)

You refer several times to young adults. What age are you suggesting is young adult? The debate you posted is for juveniles. Most psych majors understand young adult to be 18 years old to roughly 25 years old.

Prison is indeed a form of punishment, however, my contention is that juveniles need rehabilitation, not just punishment.
Debate Round No. 2


monim14 forfeited this round.


As my opponent did not post his argument in time, he has forfeited this debate. It is unfortunate this debate could not have been carried out. Having my opponent clarify his or her definitions regarding juveniles would have been helpful.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Overhead 6 months ago
Ummmmm, why are you PRO? Your first statement is "I believe that juveniles should be treated as adults, with a lower punishment."

If they have a lower punishment, then that's a distinction between adults and juveiles. You should be CON because you don;t think they should be treated the same.
Posted by queencoop 6 months ago
I had recently done this same debate taking your side
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