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The Morality In Juvenile Justice

             The current trend of trying juvenile offenders as adults in cases of violent crime.
             In March 2001, 14-year-old Lionel Tate was convicted in Florida of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole. Florida is just one of many states that have over the past decade enacted laws to try offenders such as Tate as adults. And under Florida state law, a conviction of first-degree murder requires a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Tate was just 12 when he battered a six-year-old girl to death while pretending to be a pro-wrestler. But when those who had fought hard for his conviction saw the pudgy adolescent crying at his sentencing, the actual adults in this case indicated that they were having second-thoughts as to the appropriateness of this societal strategy. Prosecutor Ken Padowitz, for example, having succeeded in his goal of convicting Tate, vowed publicly to intercede on Tate's behalf and ask Florida Governor Jeb Bush to commute the sentence, and the Governor has promised to consider it (Ripley 34). As this indicates, the country is far from certain how to best handle youthful offenders who commit violent and/or serious crimes. .
             The moral perspective provided by both Utilitarian and Kantian morality is not particularly helpful in determining this issue because ethical claims can be logically argued both for and against trying juveniles as adults. Utilitarianism is a moral theory that was developed by British philosophers Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. These philosophers proposed judging the morality of an issue according to whether or not it increased the general happiness. Mill wrote that actions are "right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness" and "wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness" (Mill 80). "Happiness" was defined by Mill in accordance as to whether the action involved produced pleasure or pain (Mill 80).

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