In our search for equality and fairness we have grossly overlooked and underestimated the consequences of the decisions we have made. Our country is one that prides itself on being a society based upon democracy and freedom. We lend our support overseas to those who long for basic human rights, while we deny those same rights to individuals here at home. But how can we impose economic sanctions against human rights violators abroad when we are violating international law and the human rights of children here at home? It is here that our hypocrisy becomes painfully apparent.
The passage of Proposition 21 has changed California's juvenile justice system. The number of offenses for which 14 and 15 year olds can be tried as adults has increased; it requires that youth offenders 16 years of age and older that are convicted in adult court be sent directly to the Department of Corrections without first having been under the jurisdiction of the Youth Authority. Ethics of care allows me to have at least a little compassion for the juvenile facing time in adult prison, and let me tell you why. Incarcerating children with adults can have devastating results. According to the US Department of Justice, children incarcerated with adults are 8 times more likely to commit suicide; 5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted by an adult inmate; and 50 times more likely to be attacked with a weapon. .
At first glance it may seem acceptable to subject a child to such an environment, especially the child perpetrator of a heinous crime. I am not without sympathy for those who have suffered at the hands of any offender(s). On the contrary, ethics of relativism allows me to view this issue on a case-by-case basis. I just believe that it is a big mistake to pass judgment strictly based on emotion and not logic or intellect. We cannot afford to justify such cruelty to children using an absolutist approach.