Las Vegas Sun

September 1, 2014

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WHERE I STAND:

Sun Youth Forum: On crime and punishment

Miu Suzuki of Green Valley High School  - 2011 Las Vegas Sun Youth Forum representative Tuesday, November 22, 2011.

Miu Suzuki of Green Valley High School - 2011 Las Vegas Sun Youth Forum representative Tuesday, November 22, 2011.

About 1,000 students from high schools throughout Southern Nevada participated in the 55th annual Sun Youth Forum on Nov. 22. The students were divided into groups to discuss a variety of topics. A representative was chosen from each group to write a column about the students’ findings. Miu Suzuki of Green Valley High School writes about issues covered by her group, “Law and Crime.”

Although humans have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of prosperity, some rights procured by the people in their natural state are relinquished in order to have a functioning society. The Founding Fathers used the idea of a social contract to form the basis of the U.S. government. Society has continuously morphed to become more progressive, but the line that is drawn between what is right and wrong and what the federal government can or cannot do is still contested among Americans, especially teenagers.

In the Sun Youth Forum room of Law and Crime, students discussed these very issues, specifically the death penalty, immigration and the treatment of hate groups.

Feelings about the death penalty were split 50-50. Those who were for it believed that people who commit heinous acts in turn give up their right to life — or “an eye for an eye.” Conversely, those who were against the death penalty took this saying and molded it into “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” On a moral basis, there were many who stated that people are not entitled to determine who has the right to live.

As the discussions progressed, time hardly stood still as the conversation paralleled that of lightning — both in speed and energy as the issues intensified on the subject of immigration. At this point, a storm had been conjured.

The discussion of what should be done allowed the group to delve into subtopics such as the Arizona immigration law and whether its effectiveness outweighs the inherent flaw within it: racial profiling. There were three main solutions, which were deportation, tightened borders and easier requirements for citizenship.

Alisa Nave-Worth, our coordinator, was a pacifying force, there to part the clouds whenever the discussion got too intense. Although the forum became polarized at times, there was agreement that illegal immigrants should go through the process of citizenship if they want services provided by the federal government such as education and health care.

Although a multitude of cases stemmed from the debates, the last issue on hate groups brought us all to a general consensus. On the issue of personal crimes against minority groups, the room felt that the judicial system should remain race-blind and should not partake in reverse discrimination, which is favoritism toward minority groups in an attempt to remedy discrimination from the past. This is largely due to the argument that the origin of all crime stems from hate in some form, and the justification of the crime muddles the process of evaluating the crime for what it is. These sentiments that advocated equality on all fronts extended to the discussion of free speech, just as long as the words do not advocate acts of violence.

By this time Ms. Nave-Worth polled the group one last time, with everyone in accord. Like the ending of a novel, the bittersweet denouement of the day arrived. Weaving the dialogue together, I couldn’t help but notice that there was consistency in looking at each issue from an economic standpoint, regardless of whether the topic mainly concerned morality. From the legalization of marijuana to the death penalty, ways to improve the economy or use the dollar wisely were explored. The economic news concerning debt-ceiling talks and the euro has pervaded the minds of the youth, which was seen in this committee on law and crime. But thankfully, this “supercommittee” shows no signs of failing anytime soon.