No Prison For Children
When I was 16 years old, my college friends convinced me to go for a party with them. I wanted to fit in so I didn’t think twice about it but little did I know that the place was filled with illegal narcotics. The party ended up getting busted by the police but luckily, we were all given a second chance and I learned my lesson. That was 8 years ago but if it had happened today, I could have been serving a life sentence in prison just for making one bad judgment call in an effort to be accepted by my peers.
Every one of us can relate to this story.
One stupid mistake, one rash decision, one bad judgment call had the potential to derail our life as a teenager, but we were all lucky enough to be given a second chance.
We believe that every child deserves this second chance to reform, and we hope that you will support us in our fight for the same.
In this winter session of parliament, the Government is likely to pass the Juvenile Justice Bill 2014, which allows for children between the ages of 16-18 to be tried as adults for committing heinous crimes. As such, these boys and girls could end up serving life sentences for crimes that very often are a product of their circumstances.
Here are a few reasons you don't want this to happen:
1. The numbers don’t back this amendment up.
In 2013, children comprised only 1.1 % of all persons arrested. A mere 0.1% of all arrests were children arrested for rape and murder. If the government really does go ahead with this amendment, what they’re really saying, and what we’re really agreeing to, is that they cannot even make an effort to rehabilitate as few as 3304 children which is the number children arrested for rape and murder in 2013, in a country that’s over a billion people strong.
Moreover, over 40% of the people in this country fall into this vulnerable age bracket, so it’s more imperative than ever to protect them from prison where it’s much more likely that they will be influenced by hardened criminals and have no chance at being reformed or rehabilitated.
2). Other countries have tried the same and reported back with 100% failure in every case. [Incidentally, there is also plenty of proof that treating juveniles who commit serious crimes as adults will not ensure public safety or reform the children.]
When a similar program was implemented in New York, they found that young children (between 14-17) who were treated as adult criminals were rearrested faster, more often, and for more serious crimes. They also had 34% more re-arrests than those children retained by the youth justice system.
Taking all of this into account, we shouldn’t simply follow a failed example. Instead, we should choose to be thought leaders in a space that really requires it, and set an example that the rest of the world can follow.
3). Psychologically and biologically speaking, specialists say that juveniles are not fit to be tried as adults either.
Numerous studies in developmental psychology have found that, contrary to such perceptions of early maturation, adolescence is a period of tremendous physiological, hormonal, emotional as well as structural changes in the human brain and therefore it is a time of great vulnerability. Biological studies and brain imaging has proved that the vulnerability to indulge in risky or reckless behaviour is greater in middle adolescence (14-17 years).
As such, this is the time they require the most attention and support to be reformed and protected and need to be led by good example..
What do we really want?
We know. This is an extremely sensitive issue so for all those of you wondering how we can even suggest the reformation of a child who has raped or killed someone, understand that we are trying to encourage a deeper conversation around the issue. We are saying that the existing juvenile justice law has the provisions to address such children if implemented properly. Let’s not allow the government to take the easy way out as usual, and force them to involve more experts in their decision. Let’s encourage them to think critically and develop a new model, one that perhaps has a panel for such severe juvenile cases and how to deal with them made up of scientists, psychologists, child rights experts, and more. Rather than follow the failed examples of the west, let's become thought leaders in a space that really requires it instead.
The time has come to stand up to our leaders and protect the future of this country. The time has come to dig into your past to help protect another child’s future. Because it could just as easily have been you or your child.
Sign our petition and share it with your family and friends today.
- Narendra Modi
- Prime Minister of India
The Honorable Prime Minister of India
Shri Narendra Modi
152, South Block
New Delhi 110011
Subject: Keep juveniles away from the adult criminal justice system-stall the Juvenile Justice Bill, 2014
Dear Shri Narendra Modi,
The Government has introduced The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014 (JJ Bill 2014), in Parliament, to consolidate and amend the law treating juveniles (16-18 years) committing heinous crimes as adults.
The recourse in the adult justice system is a prison term which will not only be highly detrimental to the juvenile but also our society and country as a whole. A retributive system of justice has not only failed to achieve its objective of reducing crime but on the contrary led to an increase in future offending. This has been seen in countries like the USA. Placing young persons in prison put rehabilitation at a risk and increases the likelihood of future offending. The major fallout of such a system is the negative influence of hardened criminals on the juveniles who are thus, exposed to a world of serious crime and exit as hardened criminals.
If children are not permitted to vote, drive or open a bank account, as they are deemed immature, incapable of making prudent decisions, and easily manipulated, the same logic must continue to apply to give them protection and separate treatment in the child justice system.
Trial of children as adults violates the Constitution of India, the National Policy for Children 2013, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
We urgently seek your intervention to ensure that the Government of India continues to extend protection to all individuals under the age of 18 years, under the juvenile justice system, as has been implemented in the country since 2000, and for which, the nation has been lauded internationally.
Please stop the JJ Bill 2014 from becoming a law before it is too late. We look forward to a prompt response from you.
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