In the cases of Graham v. State of Florida and Sullivan v. State of Florida, the Supreme Court considered whether it was right to subject juveniles to sentences of life without parole. In both cases, young children were tried and sentenced as adults for incidences in which no one was killed. There were ethical issues to be considered in the cases, just like in all cases involving juveniles. This essay explores the ethical and psychological issues involved in the legal system in matters relating to the trying and sentencing of juveniles.

Your 20% discount here!

Use your promo and get a custom paper on
Ethical Issues in the Legal System

Order Now
Promocode: SAMPLES20

The prison and incarceration system in the country has four main purposes: retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation of criminals. Retribution involves punishing wrongdoers, deterrence involves preventing future crime, and incapacitation involves removing criminals from the society to prevent further crime, while rehabilitation, the most important of them all, involves changing the criminals into law abiding citizens. Rehabilitation is done to prepare offenders to fit in the society in the future. Ethically, sentencing juveniles to death of life behind bars without the possibility of parole beats the whole logic behind rehabilitation. It denies juveniles of the chance to be rehabilitated and to fit into the society as law abiding citizens (Biskupic & Moore, 2010). In addition, there are doubts on the capability of juveniles to cope in adult incarceration facilities.

Juveniles are not psychologically mature to understand the adult criminal justice system involved in cases of death and life sentencing without the possibility of parole. They have many characteristics that put them in great risks in the adult legal system, and as such, the possibility that they are found guilty of their accused crimes is higher than that of adults (Equal Justice Initiative, 2015, p. 8). For example, the decision-making ability of juveniles is inadequate, while their language skills are limited. In addition, they are not able to deal with the coercive interrogation process involved in such cases, and they may as such give false confessions (Equal Justice Initiative, 2015, p.8).

The Supreme Court ruled against sentencing of juveniles to life sentences without the possibility of parole for crimes not involving murder in 2010(Biskupic & Moore, 2010). The ruling goes in accordance to my belief that children should not be eligible for capital punishment or life sentence. According to scientific research, the brains of juveniles are not fully anatomically developed in the parts responsible for the regulation of emotions, assessment of risks, control of impulse, and reasoning morally (Jenna, 2014). As such, juveniles are not able to properly make moral judgements and to control their impulsive behaviour, which leads them to rush decisions such as crime (Jenna, 2014). This, however, changes as juveniles mature into adults. Therefore, the rehabilitation service offered in incarceration facilities, coupled with the maturity of juveniles over time, should be enough to prepare them to lead responsible lives as law abiding citizens. Juveniles should thus not be eligible to death or life sentences.

The most ethical issue in incarcerating criminals is to rehabilitate them into law abiding citizens in the future. Subjecting juveniles to death or life sentences denies them of the opportunity to be future law abiding citizens of the country. Psychologically, juveniles are not mature enough to be subjected to death or life sentences. They lack the necessary life skills required to cope with the interrogation process involved, and may always give false confessions. In my view, juveniles should be provided with the opportunity for their brains to fully develop anatomically to be able to take moral and legal responsibility. Sending them to prison for a short term affords them this opportunity, while it also provides them with the chance to be rehabilitated by the correctional facilities. They should, therefore, not be eligible for the death or life sentences.