Children charged with murder… should they be tried as adults?

As recently reported in the media, an 8-year old boy has been charged with the premeditated double murder of his father and another man.  The third-grader may even be charged as an adult for the crime. 

Reports indicate the father taught his son how to use guns.  Since the family members are avid hunters, the father specifically taught his son how to use a rifle to shoot prairie dogs.  The boy apparently used a .22-caliber rifle in shooting his father and the other man.  While many in the town are reacting to the news with shock and concluding a child that young could not have known what he was doing, police believe abuse may have triggered the boy to plan to kill his father and the other man. 

Juvenile offenders can be tried as adults in criminal court by being “transferred” to adult court from the juvenile justice system.  Upon transfer to adult court, juvenile defendants lose their legal status as minor children and become fully culpable for their behavior. If convicted as a minor, the 8-year old boy in this case could be sentenced to juvenile detention until he reaches the age of 18.  If charged as an adult, he would face the same punishment as an adult would for first degree murder (i.e. life in prison, with or without parole depending on the outcome).   While the death penalty is an available punishment for adults in Arizona (where this case occurred), if a juvenile defendant was under the age of 16 when the offense occurred the death penalty is not available under the case of Thompson v. Oklahoma, 487 US 815 (1988).

So, should an 8-year old be tried as an adult?   

According to the CDC on child development, 8-year old children are developed enough to “… dress themselves, catch a ball more easily with only their hands, and tie their shoes…”  Further, the National Network for Child Care reports that children at this age “…are beginning to see things from another child’s point of view, but they still have trouble understanding the feelings and needs of other people…” and they are just starting to “…learn [how to] to plan ahead and evaluate what they do.”  Finally, the American Psychological Association reports that “…the part of the brain that is responsible for good judgment and the control of impulses—the pre-frontal cortex—is still immature; consequently, children of this age-period …. don’t have yet the capacity to fully control their impulses.” 


So you tell me – can an 8-year old child really premeditate and plan the murder of two adult men?  Even if you conclude that an 8-year old has this ability – should an 8-year old be charged in the same way that an adult would be charged with a similar crime? From: Law Info


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There is no significant difference between a slave and a prisoner relevant to this discussion. If you like, replace my uses of "slave" with "prisoner,"


If that were true, then why wouldn't you just use the term "prisoner" to begin with?

I thought "slave" would have a greater emotional response and wanted to emphasize the similarities. I wasn't trying to be deceptive, if that was what you were going to accuse me of?


No, deception is not what I was going to accuse you of.  Rhetorical framing was and you admit as much.


Prisoners can be imprisoned for just or unjust reasons, but there are no compelling justifications for slavery.  Furthermore, slaves are considered property while prisoners are not.  Ideally, societies impose prison sentences for various reasons; payment of some form of debt to society, to keep dangerous people segregated from society, rehabilitation for reentry into society, or any combination of those three.  Framing it as synonymous to slavery could be argued as deceptive, but I would just say that it is incorrect. 


I would concede that slavery is a form of imprisonment, but not that all imprisonment is a form of slavery.


"You don't need to be willing to personally meter out punishments which you vote for."

You don't... but if you want to be a responsible adult with opinions anyone would consider in any way interesting to consider: You do. It's as simple at that.

"Your logical inconsistency:"

Please study logic before invocing it. It avoids being seen as logically inconsitent...

"You are charging me with personally metering out the punishment I vote for"

YES! We are getting somewhere!

"when you are not willing to personally meter out the punishment you vote for."

And now we are not... If I was to seek the death penalty against someone you'd be damned right I'd bash their brains in with my own bare fists. Righteous anger is something society protects me against, it should not promote it.

"We are both willing to stand face-to-face with the accused and vote for the punishment"


"but someone who votes for the death penalty must personally kill the accused"


'when someone who votes for prison is not required to personally hold the accused as a slave"


"There is no significant difference between a slave and a prisoner relevant to this discussion"


"If you like, replace my uses of "slave" with "prisoner," and the effect is the same."

I vehemently disagree.


Again, to reiterate myself: Would you, personally, be able to kill an 8 year old. If yes, discussion over. If no, then why do you expect anyone else to be capable of it?

"I wouldn't single-handedly kill an 8-year-old."

That was your first direct reply. So... Who would you enlist to help you in the task at hand?

"it is not my stance that it is necessary for one to be personally willing to meter out the punishment"

So you expect others to do your dirty work for you?

"meaning that even if I say "no," my argument is still logically consistent."

Well.. no. But more importantly, it's against your own morality. That's kinda a fun way to think, and I'd like to know more about how you expect others to do things you are unwilling to do yourself. To me it seems, well, illogical.

"After I answered your question"

I must have missed this part. You deflected the question which is not the same as answering it.

"The relevant answer now is whether you are willing to personally meter out your punishment of holding someone prisoner"

I am more than willing to pay taxes to ensure that the criminal care system works. I am unwilling to finance others performing my own selfish retributive emotional consequences. 

"which is the question you have been avoiding answering since I asked it."

I wouldn't hold anyone in slavery. I would pay to have a competent criminal care physician rehabilitate the perpetrator. I believe this is the nth time I've been over this.

"but hopefully my recap has filled you in on what has been going on last time on DRAGON BALL Z...."

My apologies, I am from Norway and apparently unfamiliar with this concept of American popular culture. However, I will say this: smell igjen kjeften din, du maser som et lokkomotiv.  It's from Døden på Oslo S, in case you haven't watched it.

You may wish to recall that you were the one who brought the issue of slavery into the discussion in the first place. Also, you have yet to answer the question posed:

Would you, personally, be able to kill an 8 year old?


So, you admit using "slavery" instead of "imprisonment" because the differences between the two lends a sympathetic element to one and not the other.  But now that you are being taken to task for the framing trickery, these differences are suddenly irrelevant?  You are, in effect, arguing with yourself.  You used the term cognitive dissonance earlier with Arcus.  You might want to look long and deep in the mirror.


And the point about slave treatment is a silly one.  Mistreated slaves don't typically make for productive slaves, now do they?  Abuse and mistreatment would generally be bad for business. So why would it be important to point out that slaves could be treated better than prisoners?   


Just drop the slave angle. It is a terrible argument in this context.

Lol... I don't know what you're talking about.


I'm beginning to suspect that you don't know what you are talking about.  And you don't seem to recall your previous arguments that conflict with your current argument?

I thought "slave" would have a greater emotional response and wanted to emphasize the similarities.


A greater emotional response?  If not sympathy, then...what?  You are obviously aware that an audience will sympathize with a slave more than a prisoner because slavery is widely considered immoral where imprisonment by society generally is not.  But you also pretend that there are no relevant reasons for this difference?


So, "slave" evokes an emotional response for good reasons. You co-opt it in place of a label that doesn't evoke the same reaction, for good reasons.  The many differences are irrelevant to you, only a shared quality matters, and that quality is not even the reason for the differences in emotional responses. Do you fail to see the problem with this line of argumentation or your defense of it?

Or am I wrong?  How else should I interpret your attempt at eliciting an emotional response rather than arguing on more objective merits?


Now, Reggie, my friend, I know debating is fun, but we are incredibly off-topic...


I blame you.  You are using labels that don't fit the conversation in place of different labels that would.  It was the sole reason I transformed from observer to participant.

"therefore I am not experiencing cognitive dissonance"

If you have to deny experiencing cognitive dissonance, you probably are. ;)

"This is pointless and boring."

That's usually what creationist storm off saying too.

"Are there necessarily any differences between the treatment of a personal slave and a personal prisoner?  No."

Wrong. A prisoner has broken the law. A slave is property. The one is still a legal person with rights and privileges, the other one is property with an associated value. If you beat a prisoner you are breaking a law, slaves have no such protection.

"Should I go on?"

Preferably not. If you find digging yourself down in a hole, it's generally a good idea to stop digging.

"Let's consider those irrelevant aspects."

And the following paragraph stands out in its irrelevancy...

"Perhaps many slaves are actually not considered property but are being held for punitive (or other) reasons."


"I hear"

Hearsay, not admissible as evidence.

"a common story among ex-slaves is that their owners told them they owed a large, fictional debt"

That's usury or serfdom, which is not the same thing as slavery.

"Both slaves and prisoners can owe debts?"

Slaves are property, they can own as much debt as your chair can. Prisoners may have their belongings confiscated to pay for damages, but since they are prisoners of the state they have no income to garnish while locked up.

"Oh, and let's not forget those annoying innocent prisoners."

This is a somewhat different matter, but quite interesting to the topic of death penalty.

"You mean some people are held prisoner paying a supposed debt to society they don't actually owe?"

I believe debtors jail was generally removed from the penal code around 100 years ago.

"Are innocent people held in captivity until they pay off an imaginary debt prisoners or slaves?"

I... I.. What..? Yes and/or no I guess, since this is a very random philosophical point.

"What about those ones who are truly guilty of their accused wrongdoing and are being held in captivity as punishment?"

That's the point of the system. At least in theory.. ;)

"The next thing I know, I'm going to hear about prisoners having to do work or something."

That's a nice way to poison a well I highly doubt anyone would drink from in the first place.

I think Arcus takes care of most of that. I understand your thought process now, Kasu. I find your conclusions to be superficial and wrong. But, since you have declared that I have no argument, I guess that is as far as I care to travel on this road with you. You are digging yourself in deeper and deeper and seem to dig faster in an attempt to distract others from the hole you're in.

@Reggie: My apologies for crashing in like that. It was just too much silly to stand unanswered and I'm having a quiet sunday :)

Do you really think I'm participating in a debate about whether there are no differences between slaves and prisoners?Or do you really think whether a law has been broken or said person is labeled as property is relevant to the similar or dissimilar treatment of slaves and prisoners?


That was exactly the point I was making when I jumped in.  You may THINK it was irrelevant to the point you were making because you equate imprisonment to slavery (erroneously, I contend), but since you do understand a difference exists, you consciously chose to replace "prisoner" with "slave".  That is the whole point of this part of the discussion in which I have embroiled myself, i.e. my objection to your use of "slave" in this discussion.


As far as treatment of prisoners or slaves?  That is something you brought up, then admitted it was unnecessary and you didn't know why you brought it up, and now you are trying to attribute that to me?

Somebody pinch me.


@Reggie: My apologies for crashing in like that. It was just too much silly to stand unanswered and I'm having a quiet sunday :


No need to apologize.  You saved me the effort, wasted as it would be.




Death penalty is not caring. It is a death penalty, which is quite dissimilar to rehabilitation.

Let me ask you again: Are you willing to kill an 8 year old if you insist on his death, or do you expect someone else to kill him for you?


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