Juveniles and Life Imprisonment
Presently the Supreme Court is deciding if life imprisonment for juveniles is cruel and unusual punishment. Once again as in the death penalty I find myself between a rock and a hard place. Having worked as a correctional facility officer with juveniles I am savy enough to know that sometimes under certain circumstances this my be necessary.
I look at juveniles today and remember back to my own childhood and see a generation of minature adults instead of children. Young girls who wear colored bans to show what sex acts they perform. young men who walk around with guns and pants hanging so far down they might as well take them off. Technology has brought our children into adulthood at a rapid rate. Babies having babies , high rates of illirteracy and illegitamacy. I see parents struggling to raise grandchildren during what should be their golden years. I wonder what happened.
The crime rate among juvenile offenders is becoming increasingly violent. On any given day you can pick up the news paper or turn on the tv and see a juvenile charged with murder, rape, robbery or any assortment of crimes. Many whether it be due to lack of education or just bad choices had rather sell drugs and get the fast money than work at jobs for menial wages.
My first day on the job at the juvenile facility I looked at the youngsters incarcerated there. Some of them tugged at my heart strings, I soon learned that that was exactly the way they wanted me to see them. The majority were very violent and riots or "Code Blacks" as the code was called were frequent. Assualts on officers were commonplace. One female officer who entered a "pod" the word for a cell, to help a inmate lying on the floor and was ambushed by 6 female inmates. She was beat into a coma using bars of soap in tube sock. She remains in a vegetative state to this day. I was also assualted several times myself . I began to see these "children" for what they were, smart, cunning, and violent.
Some of my charges were:
A nine year old convicted of sexual assualt of a child.
A 13 year old who killed her mother when the ceral bowl was the wrong color. Who had a history of assualts on staff and spent endless days and hours in isolation with nothing on but a straight jacket with a blanket over her.
A 15 year old who killed her sisters twin infants becaused they cried.
These are only some of the juvenile offenders will go into the Adult Department Of Corrections when they turn 18. The thought of sending these offenders to prison for life is a hard decision to make and I am glad it is not my decision. Life imprisonment from age 13 and 15 for the rest of someones life is alot of years and you may wonder as I often did about rehabilitation.
But the question remains, " can these juveniles be rehabilitated?" or would we be releasing tomorrows murders, rapists, robbers and drug traffickers loose onto society? Many have lead a life of crime, even at their young years having run in after run in with the law. Of those released many will return to the Adult Prisons after their violence and criminal activity continues into adulthood.
It pains me to think of someone so young going to prison for life because I have also witnessed abuse by staff of these young offenders, both physical and sexual, and I know what will await them inside the prison walls. They will become prey to both the other hardened criminals inside and many to staff. It bothers me to think about it and wait for the courts decision.
Then this morning as I sat reading my morning paper there I found the answer. The article entitled "13 Year Old to stand trial as an adult for the killing of a 9 year old" her motive ... she just wanted to see how it felt to kill someone. The precious 9 year old stared at me from the page, begging for justice. The 13 year old also stared back, void of feeling, no remorse and no fear.
I had my answer. I know now that the same as adults , there are exceptional cases where for the protection of society, we have no other choice. Still I am glad it is not my duty to hand down the judgement. Then i read the next article " Teen arrested for "sexting." I had to ask my daughter what it was.
What has happened to our children? Where did their childhood go????
Life Imprisonment Not Cruel or Inhumane For Juveniles
While waiting on the Supreme Courts Decision on whether the sentence is cruel and inhumane when used with juveniles I looked back through prior articles and newspapers I had read and researched.
The teens of today are not the teens of yesterday, when we were growing up. The introduction of modern technology has created a mass of teen-adults. Drugs, sex, and violence are common themes of video games, movies and music that are directed at the teens today. They make it look cool to steal cars, shoot people, rob, and assualt others. The teen music idols of today are young half naked girls dancing on poles on icecream trucks, bending over their car seats in mini-skirts with no panties on. All for publicity. I won't name names but with the media frenzy I'm sure you know who they are. Young men with pants hanging so low their behind cracks are showing...YUK!
All of this is fed to our now young adults daily. Even the cartoons our below teenage years children watch are no longer, Bugs Bunny, RoadRunner... You get my drift. Robots killing people, fast cars out running the police, robbing the banks, and sex sells everything. The sad price for payment of this kind of entertainment is the creation of a society of children who have become immune to the effects of these actions on themselves and society. The parents are oblivious or don't care until disaster strikes.
When one of these mini-adults kills someone then we see the parents begging for mercy for their child. My question to them is "Where were you?" while little Johnny was learning all of this. You want to feel for the parent and the child. But who is going to feel for the victim? Where was the mercy for them? For the pleas of their families for justice. I do understand that many parents have to work, but I also know that you can not leave a 13 year old or 16 year home alone or babysitting like you could in the day. A parent, working or not, should know where their child is, and who they are with. Many very young children now have cell phones. Why? The most common answer I have gotten is that way the parent can keep up with them...WRONG. If the child has a cellphone, he can tell you he is at home and be anywhere but there. There has to be guidance and responsiblity on behalf of the parents if we are not going to debate subjects such as life imprisonment for juveniles. There are also exemplary parents who do everything possible and the child still winds up in trouble. I feel deeply for them.
A child has a certain amount of responsibility for his actions also. When children are at the age of two or even younger they have a sense of doing something wrong, thus, turning their head to see if you are looking before grabbing something on the end table. Of course in these years and up until about ten, their knowledge of right and wrong is limited. By the time a child is a teenager, he knows right from wrong. he knows that if you kill someone they don't get back up when you push a reset button. He knows if you sell drugs it is wrong. I also don't buy into the mentally ill defense , unless there has been a documented history, or the he had a hard life story. I believe that each case should be based on a case by case basis and the facts, past behavior and other things like grades and school attendance.
The following is true. In Wylie Texas, 5 Teenagers under the age of 17, except for one, beat 28 year old Johnathan Bird to death with their feet and a hammer. Johnathan who had just got back from a fishing trip with his son, and fiancee, yelled at the boys to slow down when they sped down the street at a high rate of speed. he told them there were alot of small children who played outside there. The boys knew this since they only lived a few blocks down the street. They stopped and yelled obscenities then sped off running over Johnathans foot as they left. The driver yelled "I'll be back with my AK". They returned in five minutes got out and attacked Johnathan who was still unloading camping gear. They hit, kicked and beat him, while his son begged them to stop. Johnathan began coughing up blood, took his last three breaths in the arms of his son and fiancee and died. The police found the truck with the hammer in the bed. The 17 year old was arrested and being held on murder charges, the police also tracked down three other boys, all aged 16, too young for their names to be released but old enough to kill. The 17 year old had a past history that included many run ins with the law and was described as a bully and troublemaker by the police.
Do I think life imprisonment is cruel and inhumane in this case? NO!! Do I think all of the boys names should be released regardless of their ages? YES!! Yes mom and dad will sit there and cry and tell you what a good boy he is...despite the record to the contrary. So before you feel too sorry for these boys and think the punishment is cruel and inhumane. remember Johnathan, his fiancee, and his son in whose arms he died. No I do not think they should be executed, but life imprisonment...I have no problem with that.