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Jail Time And Violent Juvenile Offenders

Fighting for life without parole for young offenders. Tough states do not want to back down – or re-open old cases.

T.J. Lane, right, listens to his attorney during court proceedings in Juvenile Court Tuesday, March 6, 2012, in Chardon, Ohio. Lane has been charged with three counts of aggravated murder in the killings of students Demetrius Hewlin, Russell King Jr . and Daniel Parmertor. (AP)

T.J. Lane, right, listens to his attorney during court proceedings in Juvenile Court Tuesday, March 6, 2012, in Chardon, Ohio. Lane has been charged with three counts of aggravated murder in the killings of students Demetrius Hewlin, Russell King Jr . and Daniel Parmertor. (AP)

We are all too familiar in this country with children who kill or try to kill.  A middle-schooler with a sawed-off shotgun in New Mexico.  A 14-year-old with a box cutter charged with killing his teacher.  For years, courts tried such minors as adults.  Many were given tough life sentences.  Then the U.S. Supreme Court said no.  Said children – even underage killers – deserve a chance at redemption.  No mandatory life sentences without parole.  Now states are wrestling with that ruling.  Some complying.  Some pushing back. This hour On Point:  juvenile offenders, life sentences, and the law.

 – Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Erik Eckholm, national legal correspondent for The New York Times. (@eckholm)

Jody Kent Lavy, director and national coordinator at The Campaign For the Fair Sentencing of Youth. (@jkentlavy)

Paul Downing, son of Janet Downing, who was murdered by Edward O’Brien in Somervile, MA in 1995.

David Freed, district attorney for Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. President of the Pennsylvanian District Attorneys Association.

Jeanne Bishop, assistant public defender in the office of the Cook County, Illinois Public Defender. Sister of Nancy Bishop Langert, who was shot to death at age 25 along with her husband and their unborn child. (@jeannebishop)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Juveniles Facing Lifelong Terms Despite Rulings – “Lawsuits now before Florida’s highest court are among many across the country that demand more robust changes in juvenile justice. One of the Florida suits accuses the state of skirting the ban on life without parole in non-homicide cases by meting out sentences so staggering that they amount to the same thing. Other suits, such as one argued last week before the Illinois Supreme Court, ask for new sentencing hearings, at least, for inmates who received automatic life terms for murder before 2012 — a retroactive application that several states have resisted.”

Detroit Free Press: Parole hearings on hold for 360 Michigan juveniles serving life sentences – “The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has granted Attorney General Bill Schuette a stay of a federal judge’s order that would require parole hearings for about 360 Michigan juveniles now serving life sentences for murder with no possibility of parole. Today’s order is an early Christmas gift for families of murder victims who have been traumatized by the possible release of teenaged murderers sentenced to life without parole,’ Schuette said in a news release.”

NPR: Unlikely Advocates For Teen Killers: Victims’ Families — “One man’s mother had been killed by four teenage girls. Another man’s son was killed by a teenage boy. Yet all of them want the court to find life without parole for juveniles unconstitutional. It’s not a group you often hear about. Many in the room said they frequently are unwilling to share their feelings about the issue because they have been accused of not missing their loved ones enough. On this day, there was enough sorrow in the room to fill an afternoon — but also enough forgiveness.”

Tweets From The Hour

Listen To Victim’s Stories

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  • John Cedar

    “Tough” states don’t want to back down?
    It is sad that the “weak” states do want to back down.

    • nkandersen

      It’s perhaps a bit more complicated than that — the states in question are taking a stand against retroactive re-sentencing for juvenile offenders.

      nick andersen
      web producer | on point radio

      • vito33

        It would have been interesting to have a neurologist on board among all the lawyers.
        I’ve read about quite a few studies lately that indicate that the higher executive functions in a child’s / adolescent’s brain are not completely “wired together” – maybe not until their mid twenties – which might explain lot of the irrational behavior we observe in young people.

        • J__o__h__n

          I agree that the brain isn’t fully formed, but not killing people is is a rather low standard that we should be able to expect of anyone. The overwhelming majority of minors are able to comply.

          • vito33

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to absolve anybody or make excuses for murderers. But this science must be explored. The findings are relatively new and the implications are intriguing.

        • Justiceforjanet

          At 15, if you stab your friends mother over 90 times, as was the case in 1995 in the Janet downing murder, there really is more of a problem than a couple of synapses not being bridged…throw someone like that in jail for 18 years and then see if you’d be willing to let him out of prison into the public.

          • vito33

            That’s silly and hyperbolic.

            I would never argue that a person like that didn’t have problems that went a lot deeper than a young brain, and I would never argue that they should get a slap on the wrist.

          • Justiceforjanet

            It’s not silly or exaggerated. This is a real case and the family members of this victim, as with many other families in Massachusetts, are having to deal with the possibility of vicious murderers getting a chance at parole. If these crimes were so heinous as to warrant a life sentence to begin with, why does anyone think these offenders are #1 capable of rehabilitation and #2 deserving of a chance at parole?

      • hennorama

        nkandersen — thanks for putting up the [community rules] link.

        • nkandersen

          There’s more On Point-specific thoughts to come!

  • Human2013

    What was the point of establishing juvenile courts or setting the age of majority at 18, if we’re just going to treat these young offenders as adult. Isn’t this why juvenile records are sealed.

  • HonestDebate1

    There is something bad wrong with today’s youth. The knockout game, flash mobs and total disregard for personal property are astonishing. We’ve seen more than one recent example of the elderly being violently victimized, or murdered, by kids. There is a larger issue here that has to do with our changing culture and societal norms.

    • Bluejay2fly

      A hundred years ago they were lynching blacks, murdering indians, or beating a queer to death. If anything we have become less violent as an aggregate. The news media with its constant crime reporting creates the illusion we are more violent. Do not get me wrong urban poverty and gang violence is sky high but in many parts of America we are much safer.

      • 1Brett1

        That wasn’t the reply HD1 was looking for. He was hoping people would agree with him and then he was going to say his examples pertained to black youths but that liberals only agreed with him because he left that part out, or some such nonsense.

        Notice how he didn’t reveal his “larger issue” yet? Thanks for your reply and for not taking the bait.

        • Ray in VT

          Well, you know that white nationalist groups and such are very, very concerned regarding the “epidemic” of crime by brown people in America.

          • 1Brett1

            Yes, “epidemic” is a word often used by those types.

        • HonestDebate1

          That’s sick, please don’t tell me what I think.

          • 1Brett1

            Except that these criminal examples you list (i.e., “The knockout game, flash mobs and total disregard for personal property are astonishing. We’ve seen more than one recent example of the elderly being violently victimized, or murdered by kids”), you’ve in the past ascribed to black youths; you’ve even provided links to specific stories, and every one of those pertained to black youths…there’s that, for one thing. You’ve described this form of black on white violence as an “epidemic.”

            On another note, you said yesterday, in another thread, and I will quote, “How in the world can you appreciate sympathy? It’s the most useless and unproductive emotion in the universe.” That comment shouldn’t go without note.

            My comment is neither “arrogant, irrelevant” nor is it “amazing.”

          • HonestDebate1

            ..

          • 1Brett1

            Well, you could start by NOT calling children with disabilities “handicapped.” Most don’t like such phrases.

            Your first paragraph is a characterization of what you say others are saying, without the nuance of their commentary. THat is in effect a straw man.

          • HonestDebate1

            They are not disabled. They ably kick ass. When taking to them I call them by their names. Be politically correct if you want I’m more interested in life long friends and reality.

            I did not bring up my previous comments, you did. Look them up if you want clarification.

          • 1Brett1

            You used the word “handicapped.” Besides, I said, “children with disabilities.” I didn’t say “they are disabled” in the way you are intimating.

            You are also ascribing (“‘they’ ably kickass”) attributes to a whole group of people monolithically; that’s wrong and reveals a self-consciousness and a lack of understanding on your part.

            Providing a disabled rider with a ramp at an event, for example (to harken back to one of your comments from long ago), is much more important to a person’s dignity and independence (and to inclusion as a commitment) than is carrying them and hoisting them onto a horse. There is also indeed a privilege to being non-disabled.

            Also, if you are going to consider yourself some champion of those with disabilities you should get the language right; it’s not a matter of being PC.

          • HonestDebate1

            Don’t make me dig up all those times you said disabled was preferred over handicapped.

            I’m not a champion, the kids with handicaps are. I have a tin ear and no rhythm, that’s my handicapp but I made my living anyway. I don’t care what you think, I care what they think. In my experience they don’t think what you say they think. I taught an 18 year old wheelchair bound woman to drive the skid steer loader to clean stalls. She didn’t need her legs. I had to lift her into it and she was reluctant but she got really good, became really useful and it changed her life. That’s just one one many examples. She kicked ass. I could have just had sympathy but that would have been stupid.

          • 1Brett1

            What? “Disabled” is not only preferred over “handicapped,” get rid of the word “handicapped” altogether and you’d be doing better. And, again, you are describing people with disabilities as all having attributes as a monolithic group when they are individuals…You just don’t get it. Would you say that black people all do this or do that, or think this or that? –Wait, you probably would. Sorry, bad example to try making you understand.

            Also, to reiterate what I’m saying another way so that you can start to get your brain around it, whether one says “disabled” or uses “person-first” language (i.e., “a person with a disability”) doesn’t matter so much (depending on with whom you are speaking), but “handicap” should only be used when talking about golf or horse racing.

            “Wheelchair bound” is wrong too. Say “a person who uses a wheelchair.” Or, “wheelchair user.” Wheelchairs are valuable tools for people; they don’t bind people. People are not “bound” to wheelchairs and they separate themselves from their wheelchairs all throughout their day; if you had any real intimate knowledge about people in wheelchairs, you’d know that. How many people with disabilities have you been around? And, has it been outside the context of your horse farm?

            Your example of the woman you lifted into a steer loader is irrelevant to issues of accessibility. I am glad you helped her develop a skill, but she was completely dependent on you to perform her skill. If you had been really on the ball you’d have adapted some basic accommodations so that she could get into the loader herself.

            You are using the word “sympathy” as a straw man, too. People with disabilities don’t need sympathy, true; they need services and equal access. But, if all else fails (as in your case), it takes a little sympathy and empathy to understand what it means to have a little dignity and independent access, and that this is most important. If you can’t understand what it means to be in the person’s position (empathy) than it might be at least a start to concede one has compassion albeit one can’t see what it is like to be in another person’s position (sympathy).

          • HonestDebate1

            I’m not talking in a vacuum here. I am knee deep in it. Don’t tell me what some book or committee says. And I am just speaking in general as are you with your attempt to paint with a broad brush. I know handicapped people who not only embrace the word handicapped, they despise the term disabled with a passion. There is no there there.

            Should we have disabled parking places or disabled access? It’s silly.

          • 1Brett1

            Well, you’re knee-deep in something, I’ll give you that…I have worked with hundreds upon hundreds of people with disabilities in my life, so my experiences are first-hand advocacy, and in terms of addressing accessibility issues, removing stigmatizing views/language, etc….I know of no disabled person who prefers the term “handicapped.” I doubt your claim that the disabled people you know prefer the word “handicapped.” That is laughable. There is no broad brushing on my part. There is a lot of there there (whatever that means). Perhaps you could tune in to the second hour today about “verbal tics,” with which your speech is quite replete.

            If you are so “knee deep in it” and work so closely with disabled people, then build some accessibility accommodations into your farm. That would go a long way in promoting independence and accessibility, and those ARE VERY important issues among the disabled community.

      • hennorama

        Bluejay2fly — good points, all.

        In addition, one must consider the impact of digital technology, making photos and videos far more prevalent. In the past, if a criminal was so stupid that they wanted to brag, the bragging would be limited to word of mouth. This technology has also made it easier and more likely that a witness will record an incident, whic can be a two-edged sword for law enforcement. On one hand, photo and video evidence is very strong, and on the other hand, any misbehavior by law enforcement is also more likely to be recorded.

        Technology makes it far easier for miscreants to organize, unfortunately.

        Thanks for your “inside” perspective.

      • HonestDebate1

        Maybe but I don’t think it was the youth doing it back then. And I do agree we are much safer now, especially where concealed carry is permitted but I still come back to the culture. So many single parent families and a lack of role models have left youths in impoverished areas little hope so they turn to gangs.

    • Ray in VT

      How does your narrative fit into the fact that crime rates have dropped substantially in recent years. If something is “bad wrong with today’s youth” in light of such facts, then what conclusions should be reached about previous times, when criminal offenses were much more prevalent?

      • Don_B1

        The Freakonomics guys (Stephen Dubner, Stephen Levitt) performed an “economic” analysis that showed at least a strong correlation between the ability of poor households to get abortions following the Roe Decision of 1973 and the decline of crime as children could get a better upbringing in households with better food and other support from less stressed-out parents.

        The studies noted by vito33 and Bluejay2fly on today’s program (earlier threads) and others show that deficient nutrition, particularly in the first 5 years of life, have significant impact on the child’s ability to develop those frontal cortex abilities to control impulsive behavior, though not necessarily forever. In that sense, maybe there might be hope that permanent incarceration need not be necessary.

        • Ray in VT

          Thanks, Don. I’ve seen the abortion/crime decline link discussed, and I’ve seen references to links between early childhood conditions and developmental issues.

          I think that a part of the debate surrounding sentences depends in part upon what the purpose of prison is. Is it for punishment or rehabilitation or some combination, and then one gets into the question as to whether or not some people can be rehabilitated, whereas some clearly can be.

          I just think that it is important to consider current conditions as compared to recent history, especially considering some of the sources that, I think, make highly questionable, at best, cases or links between crime and various individual factors.

          • John Cedar

            Other purposes of prison:

            Risk management. People in prison have much less opportunity to kill
            civilians but are much more likely to kill civilians if given the opportunity.

            Recipients of the death penalty have an almost zero rate of recidivism.

            Deterrent. The threat of punishment deters criminal activity.

          • Ray in VT

            Valid points, but I guess that I was more thinking of the purpose for the person being imprisoned.

            I think that when getting into the issue of capital punishment one must be very careful. The number of people who have been found innocent while on death row is far too high for me.

      • HonestDebate1

        I don’t know what the youth crime rates are but it would be hard to calculate by arrests. So many of these flash mobs have large numbers but no arrests. Gang violence in places like Chicago where it’s so out of hand often goes unpunished. I would be interested to know the breakdown. If crime is going down in general that’s good but what are the proportions by age?

    • jefe68

      Intolerance and ignorance abounds, some things never change:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTDhgR3p12w

    • nj_v2

      What’s the matter with kids today?

      “Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in every way?”

      • HonestDebate1

        I think what’s the matter is a lack of fathers in the home, horrible role models and the soft bigotry of low expectations.

        • 1Brett1

          Having fathers in the home and good role models aren’t generally going to positively affect a socio/psychopath.

          That said, retroactively reviewing sentencing through the judicial process, on a case-by-case basis, should be applied to those violent crimes committed by underage people; it should be part of the process. There shouldn’t be a rubber stamp condemnation, a “one-size-fits-all” applied to those underage people who commit violent crimes.

          Those who show strong sociopathic/psychopathic traits, however, and have committed heinous crimes, should probably stay in prison/mental hospitals for the criminally insane for the rest of their lives.

          • HonestDebate1

            All violent crimes are not committed by sociopaths. Having a father in the home is generally a good thing.

          • 1Brett1

            Who said ALL violent crimes are committed by sociopaths? Who said having fathers in the home is not a good thing?

            Would you agree that cases where violent crimes have been committed by children should be retroactively reviewed periodically during their incarceration after the age of 18?

  • RolloMartins

    Jail is failed experiment.

    • Bluejay2fly

      “Prison is an expensive way to make bad people worse”. Churchill.

      • John Cedar

        Unbridled product liability lawsuits are much more expensive way to achieve, “if it saves one life”.

  • Bluejay2fly

    One day I worked a protective custody unit an area of the facility I never usually assigned. I saw Eric Smith he was the the 13 yrs old who viciously murdered a neighbor’s 4 yrs old child. He was 32 yrs old when I met him and had been incarcerated for about 10 years. I can tell you having seen hundreds of violent inmates that person stands out as frighteningly crazy. Sometimes the nature of the crime does not reveal the true level of danger some of theses “people” pose to society. You could argue “Well, he only killed one person and should eventually be let out someday” which in this case would be a death sentence for somebody. Most violent criminals I met have some serious mental impairments and are usually not intelligent, sane people who have bad morals. With the young you could argue they have poor impulse control or do not understand the implications of their crime which may be true but they may also be an Eric Smith.

    • jefe68

      You might want to redo your math. If Smith was 32 when you met him in 2012 that would mean had been incarcerated for 18 years when you met him.

      From what I’ve read about him, he’s one seriously disturbed person, and I happen to think his horrific crime warrants him never seeing even a minute of freedom.

      • Bluejay2fly

        He was held as a juvenile until age 21 then he started his bid as an adult.That is why his bid number starts in 2001. I was not counting his juvenile time. He was born in 1980 killed in 1993 and I saw him at age 32 in 2012 with about ten years into his bid.

        • jefe68

          As you can see by my post his age was stated as 32 in 2012. But I see that you left out his juvenile incarceration in the post. I doubt most people look at prison ID numbers in this context.

          • Bluejay2fly

            Why he was held to 21 and not put into the system earlier seemed strange to me. I posted in a hurry as I had errands to run. One topic not mentioned which is relevant is how prisons have become de facto mental institutions and how they simply just heavily medicate just like the old mental hospitals in the 60′s.

          • jefe68

            That is interesting as he should have been put into the adult population at 18. That guy was one sick human-being.

  • J__o__h__n

    I thought the ruling only banned an automatic sentence of life without parole not banning the sentence entirely. That appears to be a just ruling to me.

    • OnPointComments

      I think you are correct.

  • Bluejay2fly

    Here is a statistic that we are not thinking about. The lion’s share of violent crime is committed in by the poor or in poor neighborhoods (basically black on black, brown on brown). In NYS our prison population is 70% black, 20% hispanic. If you release people from prison do you think they will not go back to the same environment and culture that caused them to commit crimes in the first place? This locking them up and throwing away the key approach perhaps speaks to that acknowledgment.

    • adks12020

      There’s one problem with your comment…your statistics are completely wrong…prison population by race according the NYS Dept. of Corrections… http://www.doccs.ny.gov/Research/Reports/2013/UnderCustody_Report_2013.pdf African American…49.6%, White 23.6%, Hispanic 24.1% ..

      • Bluejay2fly

        Did you notice those numbers do not add up to 100. It is most likely closer to 70% NYSDOCS likes to message numbers for political purposes. Look up the 1988 Coxsackie riot or Greenhaven riot 1995 and 1996. You won’t find anything because NYSDOCS will not report violent take overs let alone give any information on it. Staff assaults are data they love to under report.

        • adks12020

          Sorry guy, the numbers are the numbers. You’re trying to claim the statistics are off by 20% and you’re just plain wrong. The statistics I listed add up to 97.3%. That leaves room for other ethnicities….Asian, for example. You can’t just make up numbers and ignore the real ones in an effort to prove your point.

          • Bluejay2fly

            Oops my bad. Probably should not have been multi tasking. You are right I was probably thinking of my own jail stats or maybe that was the stats back in 1998 when I was a rookie. Regardless that is a very large number considering NYS is about 17% black not 60%. My original point was that inescapable poverty and drug wars are packing our prisons with inmates in NYS. Many murderers are drug dealers or gang bangers killing each other in more poverty stricken areas. In prison many inmate on inmate assaults revolve around gangs fighting over the drug trade or its territorial disputes over control of other criminal activity. Pretty much a microcosm of the violence which exists outside of prison. It may seem off topic but releasing someone to the same circumstances that landed them in prison and expecting a different outcome is foolish.

    • hellokitty0580

      So, I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make. Are you saying that maybe it’s been to round up these kids (“basically black on black, brown on brown” as you say) and throw away the key or get to the root cause of the problem which you point out as being poor neighborhoods with little opportunity?

    • hennorama

      Bluejay2fly — it’s not only violent crime.

      Worldwide, the three factors that are most often correlated to violent criminal behavior (and criminal behavior in general) are:

      Poverty/Unemployment
      Gender (Males are much more likely to commit violent acts)
      Age (the highest incidence occurs between ages 10 and 30)

      There are an enormous number of studies showing these correlations. Naturally, there are other correlates as well, such as population density, to name the most obvious,.

      But what you wrote is a bit different, as you attributed “environment and culture” as factors ” worldwide, the three factors that are most often correlated to violent criminal behavior (and criminal behavior in general) are:

      Poverty/Unemployment
      Gender (Males are much more likely to commit violent acts)
      Age (the highest incidence occurs between ages 10 and 30)

      There are an enormous number of studies showing these correlations. Naturally, there are other correlates as well, such as population density, to name the most obvious worldwide, the three factors that are most often correlated to violent criminal behavior (and criminal behavior in general) are:

      Poverty/Unemployment
      Gender (Males are much more likely to commit violent acts)
      Age (the highest incidence occurs between ages 10 and 30)

      There are an enormous number of studies showing these correlations. Naturally, there are other correlates as well, such as population density, to name the most obvious.

      But you attributed “environment and culture” as factors that “caused them to commit crimes in the first place.”

      Correlation doess not imply causation.

  • Coastghost

    Why is anyone sentenced to life imprisonment for homicide (with or without the option of parole) never given the legal option of suicide?

    • jefe68

      Because suicide is a crime.
      Some do commit suicide in prison or they are killed.

  • toc1234

    success Tom! I doubt you could have found a more docile-looking lad to be your poster-boy.

  • Coastghost

    Basic statistics at the outset, please: how many juveniles are convicted of homicide, how many are sentenced to life imprisonment in a given year? Dozens, scores, hundreds, thousands?

    • Ray in VT

      50,000 per year sounds about right. But maybe that just how many satanic killings that there are per year.

      • Coastghost

        Ray, you’re not sampling the H up there, I hope.
        Get serious: we don’t have 50,000 annual homicides in the US.

        • Ray in VT

          I was joking. There was an On The Media piece a couple of years ago that talked about how people will throw around and repeat nice round numbers, and they cited how the number of 50,000 satanic killings got passed around for years, despite the fact that it exceeded the total number of homicides in America. This mentions it:

          http://articles.philly.com/1993-07-18/living/25975261_1_satanic-panic-satanic-cults-child-abuse

          • Coastghost

            (Wipes brow in gratitude.)

          • Ray in VT

            I should have made some note to indicate that my comment was made in jest. My apologies.

  • hellokitty0580

    Diane Rehm recently did a show on the development of adolescent brains. There is mounting evidence that young brains are absolutely different in the way they make choices from fully developed adult brains.

    The fact of the matter is adolescents are different from adults and deserve to be judged differently. This is not to mean that there should be a complete absolution, but if there is any chance for rehabilitation we should fight tooth and nail to make it happen. Our society deserves that. Obviously, some juveniles won’t be able to be rehabilitated, but all circumstances are different and I think there should be more care taken in the sentencing of youth. I feel very deeply for the victims and people should be prosecuted for their crimes. But I also can’t help but feel compassion for children who commit horrendous crimes. It’s abnormal and indicates something very wrong. But because it’s abnormal, I think it indicates that society needs to find different solutions.

    • Coastghost

      Yet: MOST adolescents NEVER commit homicide.
      I rather doubt any neurological evidence exists showing unequivocally that adolescent brains are “absolutely different in the way they make choices from fully developed adult brains”.

      • http://www.openeyesvideo.com/ Glenn C. Koenig

        The science is all about averages, that’s why, in my opinion. The variations from individual to individual are profound. Young people come in all shapes and sizes and temperaments, just as adults do.
        The “criminal justice” system is based on centuries old policy. It’s either guilty, not guilty, or insanity. That’s crazy in and of itself. It’s an outgrowth of a huge population that has lost its personal touch.

      • hellokitty0580

        You’re right. Most youth NEVER commit homicide. But that doesn’t diminish the fact adolescent brains are different from adult brains and it does affect the way youth make choices. Now environment certainly plays a role in the choices that youth make and the situations they find themselves in. There’s lots of nuance and I’m just saying that needs to be taken into consideration because I really don’t see how justice is being done when a 13 year old is locked up and the key is thrown away.

    • Rick Evans

      Selective use of brain science.

      There is also mounting evidence that young brains develop an early sense of fairness and empathy.

      The problem I have with brain scientists is their lazy use of MRI. Because a few red spots on an MRI image suggests young people, ON AVERAGE react more impulsively than middle aged people we are supposed to extrapolate that to excusing two young punks who go out at night, rob a store and shoot the owner.

      That’s a planned act.

      Just because to shooter acts impulsively and shoots the owner because of some misconception of the owners hand motion is not a reason for excusing all the planning that happened ahead of the fatal act.

      • hellokitty0580

        As I said, I am not for absolution. Not at all. That behavior should not be excused at all. I believe that there should be punishment for juvenile offenders, absolutely. And I think that in some cases, these kids just can’t be rehabilitated. I’m just saying that I think there is a lot of validity in treating youth offenders differently than we treat adults because they are different. I’m saying that there is nuance and we should respect that. I don’t think that one size fits all. I think we’re a more intelligent society than that.

  • J__o__h__n

    What happens when they get out? Assuming that they are rehabilitated, they are still never going to be reintegrated. In some states sex offenders are living under bridges as they are zoned out of all housing. Petty criminals can’t get jobs.

    • Coastghost

      Indeed: the Roman and Russian systems of jurisprudence (plus, the respective geographies of each) permitted exile and banishment.

      • jefe68

        Banishment was for noblemen or well born citizens of Rome. Most people rotted in prisons or they were crucified.

        • Bluejay2fly

          Is it more humane to tax the hard working citizenry to death to pay for incarceration? Why should you go without mental, optical, or dental insurance while the guy who murdered your daughter gets it free for the next 50 years. That is far more barbaric than crucification.

          • jefe68

            Really? So you opt for quick executions or better yet, how about good ol’ fashion neck tie parties. You can bring a picnic basket and the whole family.

            By the way the Romans taxed people, a lot.

          • 1Brett1

            Your comment seems to include a sentiment that it is a better option from a fiscal/monetary standpoint to execute someone than keep him in prison for life.

            Ostensibly, as a person who works in the system as you say you do, you should know that it is cheaper to incarcerate a person over a lifetime than to execute him, unless you are advocating for immediate execution with no appeal process?

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    Science tells us that the human brain is not fully matured until the age of ~25 years old. Specifically, judgement of right and wrong takes a fully matured brain.

    • http://www.openeyesvideo.com/ Glenn C. Koenig

      But that’s just a generalization! There are tremendous variations among people, children or adults. Blanket statements like this are almost useless. There is nothing magic that occurs at age 18 or 23 or whatever. I’ve seen 14 year olds with more maturity and sound judgement than some 30 year olds. It all depends on the person!

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        No, it is medical and scientifically verifiable fact.

        • http://www.openeyesvideo.com/ Glenn C. Koenig

          Neil, there is no such thing, really. Science is a matter of questions more than it is of answers, especially when it comes to our brains and human behavior. Our knowledge is quite primitive, when compared to what we will learn over the next few decades, or perhaps centuries!
          If you want to take a fundamentalist approach to science, be my guest, but I invite you to imagine where we’ll be 50 or 100 years from now when it comes to experience in this area. Where we are now will probably look rather poorly informed,

    • dek

      But what’s your point as related to this conversation?

      If you’re implying that you need a “fully matured” brain to determine that killing another human is wrong, that seems a rather extreme statement.

      Nuanced judgments in complex situations are vastly different from the cases that I heard discussed.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        Yes, a mature brain is needed to make a judgement that can be dealt with as an adult. We know that young people do not make the right judgment sometimes and this is often due to an immature brain.

        • dek

          I’d invite you to look below; other evidence is being provided that youth are able to develop the bases of morality and judgment (empathy, for example) at quite young ages.

          I believe that Howard Bloom even references some studies showing how empathy begins to develop even in toddlers — to the degree that they exhibit physical displays of pain when other toddlers fall down.

          Regardless, you’re still not connecting it to the conversation — how should this be brought to bear, for example, in the case where a 16-year-old brutally murdered a 15-year-old with a baseball bat (I think the brutality is relevant)?

          Because I struggle to see how someone at 16 doesn’t understand that murdering someone, especially in such a brutal fashion, is just flat-out wrong, regardless of the “brain maturity.”

    • HonestDebate1

      And that is why the breakdown of the two-parent family is so devastating. I agree with your premise and think that until a child grows to understand the true purpose of living a righteous (define as you will) life they need to fear the repercussions of doing wrong. I was lucky because I understood there would be hell to pay from my father if I screwed up. I may not have understood why I should be good but I knew being bad had consequences. That was enough to get me by until my brain matured.

      • 1Brett1

        So, you didn’t violently kill anybody because you were afraid of getting into trouble with your dad…okay, then, that puts a simplistic view in the mix.

        • HonestDebate1

          It worked for me. Do you disagree with Mr. Blanchard? I don’t, I think he is absolutely right.

          • 1Brett1

            So, you would have violently killed people if your dad hadn’t provided you with punishment?

            It is true that children’s brains aren’t fully formed, and it is also true that most children above the age of ten understand right and wrong in terms of murder; they just don’t quite get the gravity of it all, and they also don’t understand the consequences of a moment where they lacked self control.

            As far as Neil’s comment, it is impossible to apply a general sentiment to a specific act without looking closely and specifically to a particular case. It isn’t a simplistic matter of “agreeing” or “disagreeing.” But, Neil’s point does speak to the need to review cases retroactively in situations where an underage person has committed an act of violence. Some children are truly sociopathic/psychopathic and won’t be positively influenced by external stimuli; those people should probably never be released into general society when they get older. However, as I say, that can only be judged on a case-by-case basis.

          • HonestDebate1

            Who knows what I would have done without loving parents, strong role models, high expectations and real fear of punishment. Nowadays I understand the satisfaction and bliss of unrecognized good deeds.

          • hennorama

            1Brett1 — “it’s not about me” until it is, one supposes.

          • 1Brett1

            Hey, I’m just glad the dude was afraid of his father; sounds like we’d have had another violent criminal on our hands otherwise!

          • HonestDebate1

            Why is your comment about me? It’s not about me.

      • jefe68

        You are aware that Jeffrey Dahmer came from two parent home. Plenty of juveniles who commit crimes come from two parent homes just as plenty of honest ones come from single parent homes. As usual you approach complex issue with overly simplistic ideas and ideals.

        • HonestDebate1

          What is it you think I think?

          Do you think the breakdown of the two parent family is inconsequential? Or that there can’t be two horrible parents? Or that some some sickos are hopelessly depraved no matter if their parents were the Pope and Mother Teresa.

      • mjhoop

        When both parents are out of the home working, who is there to teach the children right from wrong? Paying for another Disney vacation or second house at the lake seems often to take precedence over raising children. Then there are the parents who have to work multiple jobs to feed the family and keep a roof over their heads. What’s wrong with a country that won’t fight for decent wages–large enough to let someone stay home and do the work of raising the kids? It would be a social good, not a waste of resources.

        • HonestDebate1

          I agree with you but the solution isn’t to artificially influence wages and kill jobs.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        What does family structure have to do with brain development?

        Are you saying that fear is the best motivator? What kind of a “family value” is that? Are mean/strict fathers the best fathers?

        Are *you* Mr Ailes?

        • HonestDebate1

          My father was not mean. Yes fear works, any brain of any age understands it. I agree with you about brain development but that doesn’t mean it’s an excuse.

          Yea, I’m Mr. Ailes. WTF?

    • myblusky

      Yes certain parts of the brain aren’t developed – especially the parts that control impulses, however, premeditated murder isn’t just an impulse. There is a difference between reckless behavior that we grow out of because our brain develops and violent and murderous behavior.

  • Ray in VT

    Racial disparities in sentencing? That is not what one would call a shocker.

    • TyroneJ

      Correlation does not imply causality. While racial disparities in anything may be due to prejudice, they might also be due to differences in the cultures, morals & work ethics of different groups.

      • Ray in VT

        True, but I doubt that that would be the case regarding the great disparities in arrest rates and sentencing that we see here in the U.S.

  • SuziVt

    Sure a juvenile’s brain isn’t completely developed, but Im even more certain that you couldn’t find a 15 year old that wouldn’t already know that murder is wrong. There are plenty of adults that have an existing condition, due to possible horrendous childhoods, or even traumatic experiences as adults that make it a terrible & real struggle every day to not cause harm, even murder, to other individuals. Perhaps living through the horrors of combat. Yes, we can sympathize, but still, they know right & wrong. Do we continually lower the bar, making excuses for bad & barbaric behavior? Our youth seems to be given a pass for any bad behavior anymore. I am completely sympathetic with anyone fighting personal demons. I don’t believe every murderer is bad. At the same time, they knew it was wrong and did it anyway. Now they have to do the time, whatever it is. Incidentally, I do not believe in executing anyone. My heart goes out to people in prison for life, but they are ALIVE. And Tom, please, do you REALLY believe that any 15 year old doesn’t know that it’s wrong to beat a person to death? Come on!

    • Bluejay2fly

      I am not excuse this crime but I am just trying to understand it ,and here is what I think. A per on who is young say 15 yrs old have a no concept of time when it comes to overall length. I lost my father in 1983 and that pain has never gone away. I still miss him but how can you explain how long that span of time is to a child who has not even lived that long. A 15 yrs old doesn’t quite get how permanent and painful that loss is when you murder someones father or sister. I also think thats why it is easier for an eighteen years old soldier to go and shoot up a village than it is for a 30 yrs old who has a wife and children at home. It could also be that when people age they get better impulse control and develop empathy for others over time. Some are just sociopaths that will never get better and no matter what s done for them and are just plain evil monsters.

  • http://www.openeyesvideo.com/ Glenn C. Koenig

    When are we going to stop drawing this sharp line between youth and adults? When are we going to stop using theories about crime and punishment left over from centuries ago? This is madness. There are numerous people in prison right now, children or adults, for whom rehabilitation would do tremendous good, but we’re still stuck in the old model of revenge and retribution.
    Tom, I’m glad we’re opening up this discussion for youth, at least. We should be opening it up for everyone. After all, what we learn from studies about bullying is that most so-called perpetrators see themselves as victims. Yes, there are a few sociopaths or psychopaths who will say or do anything to fool those around them, but they are in the minority.

  • hellokitty0580

    It’s true. What’s the overall objective of imprisonment? Is it rehabilitation, punishment, public safety, or what? I don’t know if our society has made a decision, but I don’t think we’re working towards a solution either. The fact that our prisons are still overcrowded with mostly poor black and Latino young men is indicative of that.

  • Randall Jussaume

    It is worth noting that some countries (like Norway, I believe) do not have life sentences for ANY crime. They do have maximum sentences, however, and the possibility for redemption for any individual is assumed as an integral part of human nature. There will always be persons who suffer from mental illness, but there is no concept of “lock him up and throw away the key” like we have in the US.

    • J__o__h__n

      The Norwegian mass murderer was limited to a 21 year sentence which is the maximum there. We don’t want to go too far in the other direction either.

    • Bluejay2fly

      They had no problem executing Quisling ,but I guess their values are relative as well.

      • Ray in VT

        They abolished the death penalty in 1979.

        • Bluejay2fly

          True but when an event can get you to change your values they do not seem very steadfast do they, think 911.

          • Ray in VT

            True, but values change all of the time without such traumatic events. I’m not sure if they have talked about harsher punishments in reaction to Brevik, but if they did it would not surprise me.

          • Bluejay2fly

            I always heard the victims referred to as teen agers yet he was a vehement racist. Were most of his victims non white? Would that explain the indifference? Either way many people who change their values often do so for very selfish reason because they were not empathetic until it happens to them. Like Cheney and his gay daughter.

          • Ray in VT

            I haven’t seen a breakdown of the ethnicity of his victims. He did attack a youth camp of a very liberal party. I would think that it would be likely that he justified murdering other people of European ancestry on the basis that they were some sort of “race traitors”. It is odd, at least to me, how sometimes, or often, people do need something to strike close to home in order for opinions to change. Rob Portman also comes to mind. Maybe, though, it is just a bit of a human norm.

          • mjhoop

            Brevik?

    • mjhoop

      There are many countries more humane than the US. But they don’t want any of us moving to them.

  • OnPointComments

    I wonder how many juvenile offenders try to hide their guilt before they’re caught. I bet it’s most of them, and it’s an indication that they were fully aware that what they did was wrong.

    • jefe68

      You bet i’s most of them. You’re also positive that most of the offenders are aware of the seriousness of their crimes as well. Funny, I was just watching 12 Angry Men and you remind of one of the jurors. Hint, it’s not the Henry Fonda character.

      • OnPointComments

        12 Angry Men is a work of fiction. T. J. Lane shot and killed three students, seriously wounded another whom he permanently paralyzed, and wounded another. In the courtroom, he gave the middle finger to the shooting victims and their families.

        Maybe someone will make a play or movie about T. J. Lane that you can watch.

        • jefe68

          Except you did not comment on him, did you.

          • OnPointComments

            My comment was directed at the sentiment that the brain of a juvenile isn’t fully formed and therefore can’t make a judgment of right and wrong. I think the assertion is ridiculous. For the sake of argument, let’s assume it’s true: if so, guilty juveniles would have no reason to deny their crimes, they’d say “Yes, I did it, was that wrong?” They’d never try to hide or deny their crimes, because to do so would be an indication that they knew what they did was wrong.

          • jefe68

            I’m not one to argue that anyone over the age of 12 would not know that killing someone was a crime. I would add that I would hope most kids younger than that would have developed some sense of right or wrong. The ones who do not see it as wrong or who do not have remorse might be sociopaths. Some might be have mental challenges that keep them from knowing right from wrong.

            I for one think if you knowingly murder someone the punishment should be severe in terms of incarceration. If they are juveniles and they have done what T. J. Lane did I say lock them up for a long, long time. It is a tricky situation. I’ve read of murders who have served over 25 years getting out at age 65 and they end up killing again. Some people are just sociopaths and I wish there was a way to keep them out of society for good.

      • SuziVt

        12 Angry Men is my favorite movie ever, it left a lasting impression & shaped my compassion for most people on earth & a belief that we need to think long & hard before passing judgement on others. Situations are rarely as simple as they initially seem. Also, because humans are subject to error of judgement, I could never support the death penalty. However, in the movie, it was a question of convicting an individual for a crime based on prejudice & flimsy evidence, in an effort to get the process over with & go home. Having a friendly debate over whether or not a 15 yr. old knew he was wrong to beat a person over the head with a bat, say, & whether they may try to cover up to save their own skin, does not seem to be analogous to a juror hastily voting to convict a man out of lack of responsible diligence the position entrusted to him deserved & his own personal convenience.

        • jefe68

          The analogy was his comment of taring most alleged juvenile offenders as guilty.
          Which seems to me to biased on a similar premise of the film.

          By say he bets it’s most of them, that’s not really giving anyone the benefit of the doubt or even dealing with evidence.

          • SuziVt

            I may be mistaken, but I assumed he meant that probably juveniles, like most criminals, try to cover up their crime, in hopes of not getting caught. He didn’t say anything about most of them actually being guilty. By offenders, I would imagine that meant those that actually are guilty. Todays topic wasn’t about whether or not anyone was guilty or not, but whether those juveniles that are guilty of murder knew the implications of their crime & whether or not they should be sentenced to life as an adult would be.

          • jefe68

            That’s correct on one level. But I’m not sure if the comment was meant in that light. Even if they are caught and have committed a crime they still are entitled to do process of the law and are innocent until proven guilty.

            In the case of T. J. Lane it seems to me that his violent record and behavior was never treated to my knowledge. Nor was the gun he stole locked in a safe place.

          • mjhoop

            Violence begets violence. When we have my version of a just world, society will tend to the mending of all who commit physical and/or psychological violence on their offspring, and especially to the young people who suffer and whose minds are twisted by it.

  • Coastghost

    Convicted criminals are being sentenced to life imprisonment in prison: they’re not being remanded to monasteries concerned with their spiritual renewal.

    • MattCA12

      Exactly. And prison should be much, much more difficult than it is. Hard labor. Starvation rations. Basic medical care only. More convicts should be dying in prison than come out of it.

      • jefe68

        How about bringing back chain gangs and hanging. I read that in Missouri some law makers want to bring back firing squads.

        • HonestDebate1

          What’s the matter with chain gangs?

          I can understand opposition to the death penalty but that’s not the point you seem to be making. In Ohio they tried a new drug cocktail and the victim gasped and convulsed for 26 minutes before dying. He was a rapist murderer so personally it doesn’t bother me that much but a firing squad would have been much more humane.

          We’ve had to shoot a couple of horses suffering badly when the vet was hours away and it was very fast. The suffering ended immediately. We just put one down a few weeks ago with a lethal injection (he had a broken hip) it was fast too. Our vet has said she will happily use a gun in the future if we choose. In that way we don’t have to bury toxic chemicals or worry about the death of any wildlife that gets to it before the backhoe arrives. My only point is a bullet has advantages.

          Hanging is still legal in Delaware, New Hampshire and Washington. There have been 3 hangings since 1976. They still have firing squads in Utah and Oklahoma. There have also been 3 since 1976.

          • jefe68

            What’s the matter with chain gangs?
            They are cruel and unusual punishment for one.

            Utah is phasing firing squads out, it’s up to the prisoner to choice this.

          • HonestDebate1

            What’s the matter with cruel and unusual punishment for felons? But it isn’t that, have you ever worked roofing jobs in Florida? Or hoed 10 acres of cabbage? Work is work. It’s good for you.

          • 1Brett1

            Especially with shackles around your ankles and a shot gun pointed at you [sarcasm].

      • mjhoop

        Why not just cut them down where they stand. No need to bother with trials and all that useless and costly hugga-mugga.

  • Questions

    What surprises me many times is the brutality and “mature level” of violence that can be done by these children. The pre-planning and deviousness indicate an awareness of what they are going to do is wrong. I don’t they they should be given leniency for “adult” crimes like Murder or rape.
    The fact that most violent crimes are committed by men because they have a predisposition to violence via biology and testosterone does not mean we give them reduced sentences or less culpability than female counterparts.
    Thus, we should not excuse violent “adult” crimes by children by mere fact of juvenile status.

  • Human2013

    The hypocrisy from the religious right is unbearable. Most of the US south still has the death penalty. So much for the Christian concepts of forgiveness and redemption..you won’t find it in the south.

    • Bluejay2fly

      They had slavery and separate and very unequal and they managed to square that with the bible.

      • mjhoop

        People can rationalize anything. It keeps their heads from exploding when what they believe is in contradiction to reality. They must believe. (As opposed to ‘know.’)

  • MattCA12

    The kind of moral relativism at work here merely ensures the continued erosion of our civilization. We don’t hold children accountable for anything else these days, why would we when they kill?

  • stephen solimene

    People just don’t get it they are convicted killers. History tells us they will do it again and there is no fix, I know I heard it all for five weeks from all the pros at trial.
    They are what they are killers. I am the brother of Janet Dowing Stephen Solimene

  • TELew

    Of course Gary Ridgway, ie. the Green River Killer (convicted of killing 49 women), committed his first attempt at murder when he was sixteen by stabbing a six year old boy whom he left for dead.

    Then there is the case of the two British kids (I don’t remember their ages, but I would say about 13) who abducted a small boy from a mall and murdered him.

    The sad fact is that a lot of these “child” murderers have “it” in their systems long before they actually commit their crimes. They are beyond rehabilitation. And for those raised in gang cultures, going to jail, especially for murder, and then being released, merely elevates their status when they return to their gangs. What good is it to “rehabilitate” these kids when they have nowhere good to return to after they are released? Also, prisons tend to be the best schools for a young man to learn how to be a better criminal.

    • TELew

      The young boy I mentioned was James Patrick Bulger, age two, murdered by two boys, both age 10. There is a very chilling security video of him being led away from the mall by the two boys. This happened in 1993.

    • TELew

      Edmund Kemper, another serial killer, murdered his grandparents when he was 15 years old. After spending several years at a mental institution, he was released and went on to kill several women, including his mother..

  • Sy2502

    We know through neuroscience that a normal human brain is supposed to be hard wired for empathy. Empathy literally makes you feel the pain of another human being that you see suffer. Some of the crimes committed by these juvenile are horrible and in my opinion show they are simply lacking the brain wiring, or whatever scientific term, to be functional human beings in a civilized society. So for what I am concerned, they can stay locked up the rest of their lives, where they can’t hurt anyone else.

    • mjhoop

      I d on’t agree that the brain is ‘hard-wired’ for empathy. Nova, some years ago, did an excellent and memorable program on brain and nerve development.
      Empathy comes when the brain and nervous system develop from he body being touched and held, cuddled and baby-talked to. I would bet money that the young people who committed these crimes were raised in homes where they were not held and touched, talked to and cherished. Also, I would like to know if anyone has studied the affects of carrying an infant around in a hard plastic carrier instead of against a soft human body…in the arms or in a papoose carrier. Being carried this way is an evolutionary necessity, finely tuned by nature and nurture, now dispensed with in the industrial age.

      Touching is what makes us human. It develops the nervous system, promotes trust, encourages bonding and from there we develop empathy for others.
      If you doubt the affect of touching, lie down in a quiet place and very gently –like a feather–stroke your own skin– arm, abdomen– anyplace you can comfortably reach. You will feel that touch through your whole body.

      If I’m correct in my conclusion that touch and tenderness for an infant can make all the difference in their behaviour as juveniles, then our whole punishment emphasis is all wrong. We need instead to have regard and concern for the welfare of the parents before they have their children. We need to be sure that families get respect and parents aren’t pressured by the need to make a living into giving their infants and small children over to the care of people who are paid attendants and who have no special regard for the children they watch over. Sitting all day in a plastic carrier is a kind of death sentence for a child.

      Pregnant women should be treated kindly and allowances made for their comfort if they must work.

      I would like to see Bill Gates lead the way by giving up a billion or so of the bucks he made from the hardworking people of this country and the world and donate it to a fund to make life easier for families. He’s generous overseas. We could stand to have some of that largess directed this way.

      If every American bazillionaire gave back a small portion of his/her wealth extracted from our people and our nation’s resources, maybe we could actually be a civilized country. Or maybe we all could just cut back on our consumption of useless material goods and let the bazillionaires retire and live off what they already have accumulated.

      The four Walton heirs recently were worth over 30 BILLION apiece. Surely, they could spend their pocket change on helping the nation pull back from the abyss opening at our feet when a children feel so alienated they are driven to kill and maim others. What a country this has become, when greed is good and the very people most hurt by it defend it –and won’t see the harm it does.

      • John Cedar

        A while back I saw an interesting story on 60 Minutes of liberalism. A couple that chose to spend years following and videoing the life of African lions had captured video of a lion killing a gorilla and then immediately mothering the baby orphan gorilla left behind.

      • Sy2502

        The brain IS hardwired for empathy. Do an Internet search for “mirror neurons”. It is possible for nurture to interfere with nature of course. We know people who have been horribly abused can become abusers themselves because the abuse changes their mind. Nevertheless many of these juvenile offenders have fairly regular families and upbringing. As for the rest of your post, it was very long and didn’t seem pertinent to the issue at hand.

  • Michael Daigh

    Arguments about neuroscience are merely proxies for arguments about the “Free Will” problem as it pertains to moral judgment. (See Edwards on the Will, Locke, and Nietzsche). First of all, “free will” is a logically indefensible fallacy, but that’ another story.

    The problem isn’t the perpetrators; it’s us. Did you feel for Jean Valjean? Do you long for the redemption of child soldiers in Africa? Of course, these narratives about redemption never seem to apply to mostly poor black kids and people in the United States.

    I’d be more willing to accept (but not agree with) arguments for mandatory sentencing if the proponents were ethically honest. That is, if they simply acknowledged that, for them, that justice equates with revenge.

    Most of the reasoning I’ve heard tonight has to do with some idea that a long sentence will come as close as possible to making a perfect world because in some way it inflicts pain in return. Fine. But admit it. Use the words revenge and be honest.

    I believe, even as hard as it is to do so, that there MUST be a chance for redemption. Otherwise, what’s the point? I’ve done things wrong (no crimes) that I have grown from.

    This country only believes in revenge. Mandatory sentencing, the inability to ever emerge from that past even after released.

    It’s so sad that Victor Hugo is still so relevant today…Javert certainly believed in a world that could be made perfect through his “justice”.

  • Michael Daigh

    “So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.”

  • outdoor_michael

    If Ms. Lavy and those on her side of the fence believe these “youth” will change with time, perhaps they should adopt said individuals into their homes upon release from jail?

  • mjhoop

    Why is society not doing something about handling those violent anger impulses? Since the mental hospitals were closed and the prison system became the place the mentally ill end up this country has become one I am sad to live in.

    • SuziVt

      Agreed. Our society doesn’t want to deal with mental illness or homeless people. Our prison system has become a holding place for those that have not been given help, before they broke the law. However, once a life has been taken, to let them off because of a condition is unfair to the victims of their crime, loved ones of the victim, those that have conditions & manage to control those impulses & all of those that committed a violent crime & are serving hard time. We need to take mental illness seriously in the early stages & work with them in productive ways. Hopefully, we’ll start with mandating that insurance companies treat mental illness as a serious illness. The human race seems to want to sweep all difficult problems under the rug, never dealing with the root of problems. Or they want to lock everyone away to get them out of our hair, like throwing the elderly into “homes” & our children into day care or hire nannies. We don’t want have our lifestyles disrupted.

  • JGC

    David Freed (now, there is an ironic name!) was an interesting addition to the guest panel. His is an electable position, district attorney, and as a Republican, there are no votes for him to have any other that a totally unyielding “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” frame of mind. I have to scrutinize the opinion of a district attorney from the state that gave us “Cash for Kids”. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that there are over 400 people locked up in life sentences in PA for crimes committed while juveniles. They built a series of private juvenile detention centers and then set about, with the help of some judges receiving huge kick-backs, to find youthful bodies to lock up at taxpayer expense for lengthy and lucrative sentences.

    • 1Brett1

      We can argue nature vs. nurture all day as root causes of children turning violent (and my view is that both environment and inherent brain development can and do play roles in the creation of violent people). We really can’t, however, fully address what to do with children who are violent and who don’t seem to develop empathy, no matter how or why they are that way, unless we address the kind of institutional corruption you describe in both of your above comments.

      • JGC

        I am afraid that there is no plan to address children who seem to lack empathy, and so all who commit violence get herded into the same category. I closely watch the comments from Bluejay2fly because he is too well connected in the prison system, and that checks some of my inclinations,but still…

        • 1Brett1

          I agree about violent children in the criminal justice system getting put in the same category. Justice should always carry with it mitigation and, as sentimental and romanticized as it sounds, mercy. Treating those who commit violence as individuals is the only way to implement justice as properly as it can be.

          There are some who should never see the light of day after they’ve committed acts of violence, while others should have some hope that they can be productive members of society at some point after a long period of reflection and rehabilitation.

          People often ask, “what about the victims.” Remembering the victims and respecting the importance of their lives is not undermined by humane treatment of a young person who has committed violence.

          Those who would say, “line up all the monsters and shoot them” don’t bring honor to victims’ lives but instead show a mob mentality that perpetuates the basest of instincts in a civilized society. As a society, we are charged with attempting to transcend our basest instincts.

          • JGC

            Well said.

  • JGC

    Also want to add, concerning guest Cumberland County, Pennsylvania D.A. David Freed, that he ran for Pennsylvania Attorney General in 2012. His father-in-law, Leroy Zimmerman, was the first elected PA Attorney General. Zimmerman was also at the head of the severely mismanaged board of the Hershey Trust, part of which is the Hershey School established for indigent children, but which had devolved into yet another Pennsylvania cesspool of child “sexual abuse” and “inappropriate real estate deals”. Freed’s father-in-law received $500,000 per year for his services to the school and the Trust. It seems to be a family business, looking after the poor and wayward youth of PA, and if they refuse to be “helped”, then to lock them up for life in the prison system.

  • Joesph Testa

    Personally I would like to see these little monsters lined up and shot,

  • sjw81

    what is juvinile about cold blooded murder? like rabid animals put these monsters down and protect our society

  • Regular_Listener

    So the brain is not fully developed until 25 or 30. Hmm. I would caution against letting this fact be used as a rationale for treating people like children until they are that age, for excusing all criminal acts, for saying they should not be allowed to make decisions and experience the consequences, and for believing that a person should not be responsible for their actions because the brain is still not fully developed. This seems like a handy excuse for those who would like to maintain parental control indefinitely.

    I am in favor of compassion and forgiveness, but once someone, however old he may be, is depraved and disturbed enough to commit a horrible murder, he should be held accountable. I do think the circumstances of the crime should be considered. For
    example, was the bloodshed the result of a fight, in which there was no
    intention to end a life? I also realize a lot of these young people have probably struggled with being raised in troubled circumstances, but still… if you wait until the brain is developed, can you be sure you will not just have psychopath with a developed brain, rather than one with an undeveloped brain?

ONPOINT
TODAY
Jul 29, 2014
The U.S. Senate is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. (AP)

The “Do-Nothing” Congress just days before August recess. We’ll look at the causes and costs to the country of D.C. paralysis.

Jul 29, 2014
This April 28, 2010 file photo, shows the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal-fired power plant in Colstrip, Mont. Colstrip figures to be a target in recently released draft rules from the Environmental Protection Agency that call for reducing Montana emissions 21 percent from recent levels by 2030. (AP)

A new sci-fi history looks back on climate change from the year 2393.

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Jul 28, 2014
U.S. Secretary of War Newton D. Baker watches as wounded American soldiers arrive at an American hospital near the front during World War I. (AP Photo)

Marking the one hundredth anniversary of the start of World War One. We’ll look at lessons learned and our uneasy peace right now.

 
Jul 28, 2014
This June 4, 2014 photo shows a Walgreens retail store in Boston. Walgreen Co. _ which bills itself as “America’s premier pharmacy” _ is among many companies considering combining operations with foreign businesses to trim their tax bills. (AP)

American companies bailing out on America. They call it inversion. Is it desertion?

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: July 25, 2014
Friday, Jul 25, 2014

Why the key to web victory is often taking a break and looking around, and more pie for your viewing (not eating) pleasure.

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The Art Of The American Pie: Recipes
Friday, Jul 25, 2014

In the odd chance that our pie hour this week made you hungry — how could it not, right? — we asked our piemaking guests for some of their favorite pie recipes. Enjoy!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘The [Russian] Reset Worked’
Thursday, Jul 24, 2014

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took time out of her global book tour to talk to us about Russia, the press and the global crises shaking the administration she left two years ago.

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