That is a Child! Not State Property! 

By Kenneth Crenshaw Jr. / Opinion Editor

Children are subject to causing crime just like anyone. An individual who commits acts of murder, theft, and various other crimes must face consequences. Laws are created to apply to all. However, the severity of the punishment is adjusted to certain ages because of the conditions of the United States Prison System. 

I’ve surveyed students at Missouri Valley College on “What crimes are justified for a child to be tried as an adult?” The clear cut answer was murder. If a child were to kill someone  the general consensus is that he or she should receive punishment just as an adult would. 

What societal pressures can lead a child to crime ? An individual who lacks the guidance and support of a caretaker is more likely to participate in criminal acts. Children who are a part of the wrong crowd such as Gangs are collectively pressured into crime. Any individual who is lacking essential resources such as food, water, and shelter will become far more desperate to secure these three. Lastly, an individual who is a drug addict or mentally ill are prone to act irrationally and commit crimes.

There should be a plan in order for impoverished individuals to assimilate back into society. If an individual who is without hope will lose inhibition to cause harm to others and themselves. However, an individual who is suffering should still be treated humanely and should seek guidance to get back on track .  

Alabama prisons have the highest suicide rates of all prisons, at triple the national average. 

Those who are mentally ill and even on suicide watch are held in solitary confinement with little contact with officers. In fact, prisons are so overcrowded that there aren’t enough officers to manage them to begin with. There are only 1,400 registered officers in the prisons of Alabama. That is just under half of the estimated staff needed to house and monitor over 16,000 inmates. 

Prisons across the country are not far from the extreme cases found in Alabama. Prison conditions have yet to improve. The current prison system promotes treating criminals as caged animals. Inside the prisons are constant sexual assault, murder, racism, and even modern acts of slavery. These conditions promote the worst behavior of people who are already marked as criminals in the first place. 

The current jail system should follow the blueprint of mental institutions. The intent of prison should work with the inmate on improving better ways of thinking in order to improve their lives. Most young men who leave prison are prone to returning right back into the prison system. The limited opportunities will leave someone feeling hopeless to find ways to make a living. Plus they are now conditioned to a harsh way of life inside of these prisons that alter a young man’s decision making. 

In 2018, 18-year-old Konrad Schafer was sentenced to life in prison for nearly two dozen shootings in Ocescola County. Him and his friends were a part of various shootings in which two people were murdered. Schafer was only 15 at the time of the crime. 

I asked Missouri Valley students if any child should be sentenced to life in prison. Reyvan Mcdonald said:“No, nobody should serve life in prison for a crime they’ve done so long ago. They don’t even have a chance to change their life around. Jail is just going to make them a much more dangerous person since they have nothing to lose.”  

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