The Instigator
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The Contender
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In the United States, juveniles charged with violent felonies ought to be treated as adult

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/10/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 10 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,123 times Debate No: 14355
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (1)




To define the statement, juveniles are from the age of 18 and under. They are not trialed they are considered "informal hearings." Felonies range from a Class E (1-5 years) to Class A (life or death penalty). Felonies also include murder, kidnapping, arson, crimes against children, armed robbery, aggravated assault, rape, firearms in certain cases, or possession of firearms in certain cases. Juveniles should not be trialed as adults if committing a violent felony. The Mind of a juvenile goes into a state of regression from the age 13 to the end of their juvenile years. They are not capable of making correct decisions. Under the age of 7 a child can not be charged with crime including murder because a lack of criminal intent. a child under the age of 12 can not be sentenced to a secure detention facility. Majority of juveniles commit status offences. During a court care a juvenile has no constitutional rights to a jury trial, therefore they can not be fully defended in their case. Juveniles sent to detention centers are for rehabilitation and they need that opportunity to have that rehab. " two guiding beliefs about young people have prevailed: first, that juveniles have different competencies than adults ( and therefore need to be adjudicated in a different type of venue); and second, that they have different potential for change than adults (and therefore merit a second chance and an attempt at rehabilitation). States have recognized that conduct alone-- that is, the alleged criminal act-- should not by itself determine whether to invoke the heavy hand of the adult criminal justice system". (USA Today)


I am for the positive side. Juveniles charged with violent felonies definitely should be treated as adults. I would first like to point out that my opponent used the word "trialed" I do not understand what this word entirely means, but I have assumed (possibly for contradiction; who knows?) that my opponent meant "tried" instead. Moving on from my pet peeve, I would also like to say that my side is not required to defend every single thing that a juvenile does against the law as being treated as an adult. It is only when a juvenile commits a violent felony, does my side apply.

If a juvenile is old enough to commit a violent felony, then (s)he is old enough to be tried as an adult. "Oh no! You terrible person; how could you say that?" I'll give you several reasons why I would make such a statement. My opponent points out that not all state legislatures give juveniles rights to jury trials, however, this argument is both flawed and irrelevant because if juveniles were to be treated as adults, they would also be afforded the complete right of adults, thus rendering my opponents' argument useless. If a juvenile is accused of committing a violent felony, then he or she is entitled to receive every right and treatment that an adult might receive both good or bad.

Going back to rebut a portion of the unorganized information that my opponent has thrown out, when my opponent states that children under seven "can not be charged with crime including murder because of lack of criminal intent" she does not say why keeping a system in place is always a better option, which I contest, and she also fails to explain how we know that seven-year-old children "lack criminal intent". It seems that her basis for this part of the argument is due to personal stereotype, and bias, assuming that seven-year-olds are a certain way without actually having anything to back it up.

My opponent has argued that juveniles lack the mental capacity that adults have, and I both agree and disagree with this statement. I think that the statements my opponent made were sweeping generalizations, and to impersonal. On the whole, she is right because juveniles are still developing and change when they become adults, however, some adults are less mentally capable and stable than juveniles. Yes, there are mentally disabled adults who commit violent felonies; should they be tried any differently, if the law sufficiently protects their rights? I think not, and neither should juveniles have a different set of rules and regulations.

Going back to my previous argument about intelligence, the assertion that people under the age of 18 cannot be treated the same way as adults is extremely ageist. There is no magic number for competency or knowing right from wrong. Scientific studies are averages, and let's face it; there is no such thing as an average person. The adult system of defense allows defendants to use insanity as a defense and not understanding the consequences of one's actions or that something is wrong as a solid defense. Lawyers can request a psychological evaluation for the defense, and if the juvenile is legitimately not responsible or his or her actions, then the defend can be found not guilty. Just because someone is tried as an adult doesn't mean a conviction. Lawyers can also request an IQ test to show competency, and if a child cannot pass an ADULT (because if they are treated as adults, then they will be given adult tests) IQ test, it is very likely that the prosecution will have lost its case.

The argument that juveniles are not capable of making correct decisions is stated, to put it bluntly, without any factual evidence to back it up, and it is also slightly insulting. This "regression" that my opponent addresses does not necessarily prevent anyone from knowing right from wrong. Indeed I would think that many adults have "regressed" if they have stooped low enough to commit violent felonies. I, being a juvenile myself, indeed believe it is possible through fourteen years of continuous research, for juveniles to make correct decisions. People like me being held to a lower standard than adults is a clear example of injustice. If an individual lacks certain capabilities, than a test for competency, and emotional health is sufficient to determine responsibility, not some magic philosophy, that when you turn 18 you suddenly start to become a viable decision maker.

When my opponent argues that juveniles are more capable of change than adults, she fails to mention why this is relevant. If a prison judge has received psychological analysis that cites a strong likelihood for change, than it should be taken into accord for sentencing. An adult who is schizophrenic is subject to a strong likelihood for change if treatment is applied, and so are some juveniles, but the basis for this should not be age, but instead individual traits, including intelligence, understanding, compassion, and well-being.

The entire negative position is based on an underlying and poorly concealed value of ageism, which is a flawed philosophy because everyone is different, and therefore the negative position is a flawed one.

Debate Round No. 1


-IQ test change every year and possibly could be bias and they test basic knowledge.

- During the age of regression the brain goes into a state of growth for our brains to compesatate with the growth and this study has been prove to end around the age of 22.

- schizophrenic take medication but can not fully be cured therefore they can not be questioned on their ability to change.

-I would like to point out that my opponent has used "I" during this debate and therefore they had a very personal point if view on this topic.

- its against the law to prosecute a juvenile as an adult unless they commit a murder WITH a certain type of weapon.

- they may commit a violent felony but that is the only way they may be tried and the the judge will question the authory figures and the juveniles environment and psychological standpoint in "only the best for the children" rule

- 7 years of age is the only proof and legal age they could be QUESTIONED with criminal intent

- What does mentally disable people do with juveniles and adults in the criminal justice system?

-intelligence level can be question and juveniles can be questioned on their view with right and wrong.



My opponent has expressed concern over the pro argument's usage of the word "I". Well that is a correct observation, but it does not viably have anything to do with discrediting my argument, as she has not been able to prove that my personal feelings have caused false information to be presented; let it also be observed that she has used the word "I" as well, However, because my opponent finds "I" as a distraction (the intention is for the negative position to be able to debate fairly), and a discrediting one at that, out of courtesy, for the duration of this round, the positive position will cease to mention the word "I" after this paragraph, but other personal pronouns will still be mentioned.

My opponent addresses the IQ tests, saying they "could be bias(ed)", but she fails to say against which group they would be biased. She also points out that they test basic knowledge, which really has no weight in arguing for her side. Assuming that she meant IQ test bias would result in less people being able to pass them, this would actually help juveniles in their sentencing and trials to receive lesser sentences. The statistic about IQ tests changing every year is actually a good thing, because it keeps them updated; the world is not the same as it was last year, five years ago, ten years ago, fifteen years ago, and so on.

The negative argument misunderstands Schizophrenia, or at least my point about it, because a Schizophrenic can change, under medication, although the disease itself will never be gone. This does not mean that the Schizophrenic or other adults cannot be productive members of society later in life just as juveniles have the same potential. Juveniles' specific individualized mental and potential recovery traits are still available for evaluation in the adult court system.

It has been argued by the con that authority figures, environment, and psychological standpoint, should all be taken into account (at least it appears that's what she meant; please correct me if it was a mistaken assumption). There is nothing to prevent any of this from happening in the adult trials, and therefore renders the argument that juveniles should be able to have these things considered during their trials useless. As for the "'only the best for the children' rule"

The con's argument that it is against the law to prosecute a juvenile for certain violent felonies is extremely irrelevant, and completely misinterprets the topic that she herself posted, because the law cannot be used to justify a reason not to change the same law; it just makes no sense. Also, my opponent has failed to counter my argument that keeping a system or a popular way of thinking in place is not always the moral thing to do, as we have learned through various examples: slavery, white supremacy, male supremacy, Phrenology, and so on which further invalidates her argument. It is like saying that it is wrong for something to be legal because it is illegal, and uses circular reasoning; now, there could be reasons for something to be illegal but the mere condition of something being illegal does not always make it wrong.

My opponent's comment about mentally disabled people shows her misapprehension of the topic, as mentally disabled people do commit crimes, and are part of a the criminal justice system. Mentally disabled people come in all ages. There is no intelligence test to qualify as an adult, therefore a mentally disabled person who is say 47 with the comprehension of a five year old is still an adult. Some of my opponents' statements seem to indicate that she is agreeing with me because she is starting to point out intelligence vs. age. Her statement about mentally disabled people demonstrates that she was not thinking of them as in the category of adults for the purposes of this debate.

The last comment that is made in the negative is also inapplicable to the negative position of this debate because adult courts do not take away the ability to evaluate intelligence levels or the ability to evaluate whether the defendant knows right from wrong.

The con has also failed to counter many of my arguments, including one of the most important where it is addressed that the con argument has an underlying value of ageism. She does not move to say that her position does not support ageism, and she does not defend ageism; she must do one of these in order to counter my argument. Because of the absence of her responses to some of my most arguments, you can extend me all the way to win the round, and vote negative.
Debate Round No. 2


To restate my final facts about this topic. Juveniles ought to not be tried as adults for the mere facts of age regression in the mental state of the brain, the law that juveniles can NOT be tried as an adult UNLESS they commit murder with a certain type of weapon and, the possibility of their environment affecting their judgement of what is right and wrong.

Juveniles to first state that if they were to be tried as an adult under the age of 12 can not be sent to jail for the mere fact that they are under the age of 12. They may go to detention centers which were created for juveniles under the age of 18 and for rehabilitation of their actions and crimes. If a juvenile was to be sent to jail, in that environment it could corrupt their learning process and affect the juveniles future actions due to the fact they are still in the learning stages of life and most likely will become repeat offenders.

The state of their minds is also a main reason why they should not be tried as an adult. The growing stage or age regression allows the mind to compensate and they go back to as if their were possibly 12 and under mind set. Also affect the reasoning part of their minds and causing them to questions what they were told to believe what's right and wrong.

Once a juvenile was to be tried as an adult, they lose all juvenile rights and therefore and on considered an adult and must always face legal consequences that could then affect the juvenile and their family. The law prohibits juveniles from being tried as an adult for the mere fact of "what's best for the child".

Juveniles have more potential to change because they are in the learning stages. They are still being taught right and wrong and reasoning in situations. Where adults have already mainly learned that if I attack someone enough it will cause injuries and kill them. And we daily teach juveniles what's right and wrong.

I Would like to also state this, I merely did this debate for the fact of me to learn what its like to be under this pressure and have someone question your knowledge. I am a first time debater and my first one is in two weeks. I thank you my opponent for the value of your resources and opportunity to learn from my mistakes. I do realize I have much work with my debating and hopefully will be ready. I do thank you again and you have done a far greater job then I have seen with this topic before.


My promise of ceasing to use the word "I" after the first paragraph has
expired because the second round is over. I am now able to use "I" in this round and will.

My opponent has stated that juveniles "can NOT" be tried as adults unless they commit murder with a specific weapon. However, her statement does not apply to all states, because juvenile laws widely vary between state legislatures: . Also, it doesn't matter whether or not juveniles can currently be tried as adults under any state or federal legislatures because the debate is about what ought to happen, not just what is already happening. Because my opponent has again failed to defend why keeping a system in place is always, or at least generally the best option, her use of this argument is invalid.

The con also points out that regression in the mental state of the brain affects juveniles, but she consistently fails to say that this prevents the from being able to tell right from wrong. She also mentions the possibility of environment affecting juveniles' ability to tell right from wrong, but anyone could be affected by his or her environment, not exclusively juveniles, and absolutely nothing in the adult court system forbids the defense from asking the jury or judge to consider the defendant's environment.

When my opponent states that juveniles going to jail would make them more likely to become repeat offenders, she fails to back this up with any evidence whatsoever. It could be argued that because it appeals to my logic, a juvenile would be less likely to commit a violent felony if (s)he is threatened with adult consequences, and that if (s)he is convicted and finds out what adult jail is like, that (s)he will be less likely to want to go back there.

The negative side points out that a juvenile tried in adult court loses all rights as juveniles and then must face consequences that will affect them and their families. But isn't that the point? Juveniles should be held accountable for their actions. Adults who must face adult consequences also affect their families as well as their own lives.

The con states that reasoning behind certain legislation preventing juveniles from being tried as adults is because it is "what's best for the child." But, how does the law know what is "best for the child"? This whole argument is over what is the best way to treat juveniles who commit violent felonies. My argument is that the governments with legislation that discriminates based on age in the United States do not know what is "best for the child".

My opponent presents that juveniles are still in "the learning stage" and that they have more potential because of this. This is true, but it also applies to some adults, and after the "stage" itself adults continue to learn and grow throughout their lives. You yourself have stated that the "regression" stage extends until a person is 22, and therefore some adults would fall into this category. If adult court is sufficient for those people, it is sufficient for juveniles. Also, the learning potential varies from person to person and again, there is nothing in the adult court system that prevents the defense from pointing out individual potential for change.

The con also states that we are telling juveniles what is right, and what is wrong, but that does not mean juveniles themselves do not know what is right and wrong. Just because I tell you that murder is a felony, it does not mean that you are incapable of already knowing it. Also, again, there are adults who have less developed reasoning skills that still must face adult court. These adults are allowed to present their reasoning skills to the jury or the judge, just as juveniles would be allowed if they were treated as adults.
The negative also said that adults know if they attack someone in a violent manner it may result in death. This knowledge does not apply to all juveniles, but it also does not apply to all adults. The excuse that a person does not understand the consequences of his or her actions can be used as a defense in adult court, and therefore there should not be a special set of rules for juveniles if their rights can be protected in adult court. I am a juvenile myself as I have said in previous rounds, and I certainly understand what murder, rape, robbery, assault, and other violent felonies are wrong, so the argument that juveniles don't understand this already does not apply to all juveniles, because without looking any further I found an example to contradict that argument in myself.

My opponent has still failed to address the subject of ageism. She again has not argued for ageism, and she has not argued that her argument does not use ageism.
My opponent has also consistently failed to argue against my assertions that the adult court system can justly, and effectively protect juveniles and their rights, just as they do for adults. Since she has not refuted some of my strongest arguments from the previous rounds, I urge you to vote negative.

Separate from the arguments, a note to my opponent: Thank you, TKD_TY_67, for your time. I am also a first time debater, just so you know. Other than informal, classroom debates, I have not debated, and this is the most formal setting in which I have done an actual debate. I am going to debate in two weeks because my coach is finally going to let me to; he didn't allow me last time because he thought that I needed to observe first and am "only a freshman" who will have plenty of time (maybe you can understand my ageism tactics a little better now ha ha) to debate in the future. I'm also going to try extemp (only SLIGHTLY nervous about doing two events my first time). I actually joined this site to both help hone my debating skills and do what I love to do which is debating. You do still have work to do, but you can definitely improve, just as the same goes for me. I am the only person doing an actual debate event on my speech and debate team, so I feel pressure to do my best. Thank you for the compliments; they definitely help with my confidence (yes; believe it or not, I struggle to appear confident in person). It's been a fun debate, thanks again! I would shake your hand, but alas my computer does not contain such technology.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TKD_TY_67 10 years ago
honestly i don't think it will be brought up in a future court case unless its that serious like murder with a stick or something it might be watched
Posted by BlackVoid 10 years ago

So if what you explained happens, then he spends his time in juve until 18, but then the case is again brought up in the adult court where he is susceptible to adult prison sentencing?

I just need to know if juveniles not treated as adults will/can still end up going to prison at some point, even if its not as long as they would have if they were treated as adults. I am debating this topic in LD myself, and this is very important for blocks.
Posted by Amethyst 10 years ago
@TKD_TY_67, those are probably the laws in your state, but juvenile laws concerning maximum sentences and trying people as adults vary from state to state.
Posted by TKD_TY_67 10 years ago
@blackvoid, From what i was taught by a police officer and criminal justice system:juveniles college teacher is that Rape is a felony but it was not murder with a Certain weapon and therefore can not be charged as an adult but merely will go to detention centers unless when 18 the case is decided to be brought up again
Posted by Amethyst 10 years ago
@BlackVoid, it depends on the state legislation, sentencing (as in min to max for the state and the judge's personal decision in sentencing), and whether or not the fifteen year old was tried as an adult, which is possible.
Posted by BlackVoid 10 years ago
Assuming a 15 year old commits rape, would he go to juve until 18 and thats it, or would he go to jail for a bit when he turned 18?
Posted by Amethyst 10 years ago
Firstly, I am undecided on this issue, and am not completely for the affirmative side of the argument, because I agree with different things from both of the sides; children and adults do have clear physical differences, but ageism has always bothered me. I disagree with you when you say that someone does not have a developed out look of life at age 10 or 11. I have learned a lot since then (in 4 years haha), but I had a strong conviction of right from wrong by then, and I was already debating philosophies with myself. To reference an aphorism that explains my outlook: It is not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years. A 12 year old can absolutely know better than a 60 year old; just because the 12 year old is younger does not mean that the 12 year old is lesser.
Posted by speeldude 10 years ago
*apply to everybody?
Posted by speeldude 10 years ago
Argh you can't edit comments. I wanted to add that the reason for separate trial systems are partly due to the fact that kids are more likely to change and partly that they aren't as capable of making educated decisions.
(I don't know if yall are reading these comments, nor do I really care. I'm just putting these thoughts into words to try to keep my mind sharp.)
First of all, the reason that not every crime comes with a life sentence is that it is the general belief that people can change given the right circumstances. Though I agree that there's no way to determine exactly what time frame this occurs in, children are more capable of changing than someone who is significantly older. I'm a completely different person than I was 11 years ago. That proves that there is a difference based on age/experience.
On that same note, I also believe that decisions are based on experience and not everybody has the same level of experience. I'm going to pull an example from my life to support this as well. I grew up in kind of a bad area where crime was glorified and there was a lack of logic behind authority. Therefore, my biggest influence was through my peers. Most of the people I knew back then are either dead or in jail. I wasn't provided with a viable alternative to that lifestyle other than my parents and the local authorities who operated on the principle of "do this because I said so" which holds no merit unless I trusted them. I did not. So, based on my experience up until that point, a life based on crime was the best available option. As I grew older and saw the repercussions of my friends' actions, I was able to determine that crime was not the correct path to take. This didn't happen until I was about 15. I don't believe that a person has a completely developed personality or outlook on life at the age of, let's say 10 or 11. I'm all about personal responsibility and if I had killed someone at that age, I should have been held responsible for it, but should tha
Posted by speeldude 10 years ago
I agree with Amethyst if only on the issue of ageism. I agree that if you're old enough to commit a felony, you're old enough to own up to it. It's not "nice" or politically correct, but true.

My question is: If a minor isn't required to go through the same judicial system as an adult, should the guardian of an underage felon be held partly responsible for their child's actions? If you're saying that a child is not responsible for their actions, then who is? What is the difference between a "good" child and a criminal one? It must be their environment. If an adult is responsible for keeping their child safe and their child is out committing felonies, then obviously the parent must be at fault?

(By the way, that was a good argument that younger people are more likely to change. I don't want you to feel like everybody's ganging up on you and have you drop out of this debate.)

I'm ready to see round 2.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by SuperRobotWars 10 years ago
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