Everyone knows young people are impulsive, take bad risks, and sometimes make serious mistakes.
Even though some kids seem very adult-like in their development, interests, and behaviors, they are actually very different from adults.
In the past decade new brain-imaging research has shown that the brains of teenagers are different from those of adults. Teens’ brains are still growing and changing. In fact, a key part of the brain that affects judgment may not be in place until young people reach their early 20s. This revelation helped persuade the U.S. Supreme Court in March 2005 to bar the death penalty for anyone younger than 18.
Kids are more susceptible to influences surrounding them, engage in risky behaviors and–like Derek and Alex–sometimes make devastating mistakes and commit tragic sins which can forever change their lives and those of everyone around them.
We do not claim that young people should be given a “free pass” for any crimes or violence they may commit. People are responsible for their actions, regardless of age or circumstances. Derek and Alex take responsibility for their past actions, and are living with all the sad and terrible consequences they could not envision when they were kids.
What we do believe is that adult standards are not, and should not be, applicable to juvenile justice and punishment, and that all kids deserve a second chance. Say Derek and Alex: “We are very grateful for our chance to make good, and wish to share and help pass on to others the advantages we are receiving.”
If society is ever to become a fit place for all people to live in, we must find more understanding, humane, and effective ways to address youth violence, crime, and rehabilitation. This we are committed to help do.