Howard Wasserman On The Role Of Empathy In Juvenile Justice

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Should we be called "the land of opportunities" when we don't give a second chance to juveniles who committed a crime? Throughout history, people would argue that many of the laws made by the legislative branch, and the decisions taken by the judges are taken with no mercy. While reading many articles and presenting a presentation about juvenile justice, I felt that empathy doesn’t take any place when punishing a 12-year old child with life sentence, so I wanted to know more about the role of empathy in the judicial system of the United States. Empathy is a really good trait; it allows a person to experience the situation from the other person’s shoes, and when given/shown towards others, it makes them feel they are not alone in their struggle.…show more content…
Judges should not only question the criminal, but look at his background, and try to put themselves in his shoes. Howard Wasserman, a Professor of law, would agree on this point. In his article, Wasserman claims that empathy is essential in an adversarial system, where each side is given an opportunity to present its “legal and factual argument and the judge is charged with selecting the better of those arguments” (Wasserman 2). Wasserman insists that empathy should be implanted in the law. He assures that empathy does not tell a judge to decide in a particular way, yet it guides him in hearing and thinking about the case. I like Wasserman’s argument because it shows how empathy could be a part of the law and does not take over…show more content…
Everything I knew and got me interested was all from the articles and watching documentaries about kids that got thrown in jail their whole life for an accident or something they did that they weren’t fully aware of. However, recently my 15-year old cousin, Raphael who lives in London, got hit by an older kid. He is a boy with Raphael at school; they were talking about soccer teams when the boy got angry and hit Raphael. The boy broke two of Raphael’s teeth, and nose; so it was considered a crime. It was a terrible thing, and it hits you more when it is to a loved one. Through all these unbearable things, we tried to have empathy and thought that that boy should be punished but not arrested because that will ruin his life/future. We thought he is scared, and he didn’t mean too, it was just out of his anger; he didn’t think that one punch will do all this. However, all of these thoughts changed when that boy boasted about it, and told everyone he made Raphael go to the hospital. Not only that, but also he always looked at my cousin and laughed at him. It was no accident, he meant it and he was proud of it. At that moment, the whole picture changed. He is not that scared, nervous boy anymore, he is a criminal. Not a word of sorry, but pushing the situation more towards the edge of the cliff. I think it is harder to empathize with the criminal when the crime done is to a loved one; however, it is not impossible.

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