The Culpability of Youth

7In court cases where a juvenile is tried for severe crimes, the argument that adolescents are still mentally developing is often used do lessen their culpability. While I agree that minors still lack complete maturity, and have a greater tendency to make mistakes, we are still reasonable beings who understand the moral implications of our actions. Despite my belief that minors are culpable of crimes, I am not trying to encourage the death penalty, what I mean to accomplish by saying this is to make a distinction between actions caused immaturity and moral depravity. A large percentage of juvenile murderers have a history of abuse. They have lived in a different world with different rules from us so their moral understanding may have been completely twisted; however, since this is not a product of immaturity, it should not be thought that all youths are incapable of making basic moral distinctions between good and evil. There are differences between an immature, rashly acting youth, and a murderer shaped by his circumstances and deprived of common sense. Although we are young and lack the experience and judgment adults do, our immaturity should not be a factor in determining the culpability of our crimes as we know what is acceptable in our society and what is not, however, some juvenile criminals have grown up with corrupted principles taught to them by a backwards upbringing. The background, in which these youths grew up in, should be considered as an important factor in deciding their culpability in court, instead of our age.

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