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Adulthood
February 2, 2005 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Does "Tried As An Adult" Mean Anything Anymore? I don't like the kid. I despise the defense. But what does it mean to try a 12 year old as an adult? Are we only willing to grant the responsibilities of adulthood, and not the rights? Or are some things too horrifying to yield to the innocence of youth?
posted by effugas (52 comments total)

 
This is what the term "miscarriage of justice" was invented for. He was twelve years old. Disgusting.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:14 AM on February 2, 2005


A quote from someone I know who does research on this topic:
"It may be convenient to call all youths under age 18 juveniles, but it is legally incorrect and morally evasive. Legally, a person is either a juvenile or an adult. Unless we are fully prepared to think of teens as adults, we should not prosecute them as adults, whether they face capital punishment, imprisonment or probation."
posted by terrapin at 8:45 AM on February 2, 2005


What's disgusting Fisher? That he was 12 and did something like this? Or that he's being tried as an adult?
posted by daHIFI at 8:48 AM on February 2, 2005


Murder, arson and racism due to Zoloft?
Wow, and my girl just used to get grouchy and a little spaced on it.

Then again I didn't used to beat her or keep a shotgun in the house, so the relevance only stretches so far.
posted by NinjaPirate at 8:59 AM on February 2, 2005


The problem of trying children like adults is separate from the horrific nature of what they may have done. The issue is whether or not children understand, at age 12, the legal consequences of what they have done. I don't simply mean that they understand that they might go to jail, but that they understand who they can talk to, what their rights are, what they can and cannot be expected to say to police. The justice system is not just when it tries children as adults not because they have not done things worthy of punishment, but because their diminished capacity and limited world-view make it impossible for them to gain the protections that should be afforded to them.

There may well need to be an intermediate way to deal with truly horrific children's crimes, but trying them as adults is morally and legally wrong.
posted by OmieWise at 8:59 AM on February 2, 2005


Can he vote as an adult? Can he buy a beer or a pack of cigarettes as an adult?
IMHO, there's either a distinction or there isn't. Why won't we make a decision?
posted by willpie at 9:02 AM on February 2, 2005


Is not killing someone an adult "responsibility"? It sounds like he had an adult right, because he had the gun in his room. And don't give me any of the "he lived in the country" stuff, cause those of us who lived in the country didn't have our own pump action gun in the corner of our room (corner of the living room maybe.) The FPP story doesn't say there was a pattern of abuse from the grandparents (possibly the father, but that's from another story), but it does line out a pattern of violence from Pittman.

He choke a boy at school. He was told to stay in his room OR he would be paddled. He didn't stay in his room, he was paddled. The let the kid go to choir practice after school, so it wasn't like they were planning to beat him in the woodshed for what he had done at school. If my daughter choked someone at school she would definitely be spending time in her room.Recent discussion on MeFi about hitting your children is here.

Also, "tried as an adult" does not mean the death sentence. If he is convicted he could receive 30 years to life. If that is not acceptable punishment, what would be?

Ultimately, Zoloft or not, he knew what he did was wrong because he burned down the house to cover it up and stole the car to run away. He knew what he did was wrong, enough to try and blame someone else for killing his grandparents and kidnapping him.

Here's more on the case.

On preview: At what point do we say, there are basic human laws and regardless of your age you should know them and regardless of your age if you maliciously break these laws you will face consequences? OmieWise, I have to disagree with you. He knew enough of the complicated problems of killing and covering it up, I don't think this boy had a limited world view on what he had done and what would happen to him if he was caught.
posted by nramsey at 9:04 AM on February 2, 2005


Am I immoral because I find he should be tried ‘as an adult’ due to the fact that this kid walked into his sleeping grandparents rooms and shot them … all for a punishment tantamount to grounding for choking someone else at school? Perhaps it was the Zoloft, and I certainly believe that that’s a possibility – not being a doctor, I can’t really tell without more information, but the kid decided to kill his own grandparents in cold blood, wait for a moment when they couldn’t defend themselves and for a seemingly reasonable punishment… and he *still* believes they both deserve it.

Hey, maybe that’s just a little too cold blooded and a little too evil? Ok, he was 12, but 12 years old isn’t what it used to be, and it appears that even 12 year olds can intentionally cause catastrophic evil, and 12 isn't a completely naive age. Drug influence assumed wrong, he knew what he was doing and whether it was right or wrong.
posted by eatdonuts at 9:07 AM on February 2, 2005


What I find most disturbing is his access to the shotgun. Is this type of weapon something that a "child" should be able to get his/her hands on so easily?
posted by boymilo at 9:09 AM on February 2, 2005


I don't think the grandparent was 'beating' the kid. I kind of think the paddle thing was an attempt to reinforce his authority. Yes, hitting kids is wrong, but I don't think this was a case of a abusive beating, it sounds like he padded him on the butt to be responsive. Not, like he beat him half to death.
posted by eatdonuts at 9:10 AM on February 2, 2005


Here's an interesting note:

"Pittman initially told police that a black stranger had killed his grandparents and kidnapped him."

Reminds me of that episode of South Park where various criminals were suddenly blaming "Some Puerto Rican Guy." Interesting that the most believable lie that a 12-year-old white kid could come up with was "black stranger." Does anybody know if black kids have used a "white stranger" defense?
posted by crazy finger at 9:20 AM on February 2, 2005


If tried as a juvenile, how long could he be locked up for? If his maximum punishment is only a few years until he turns 18 or 21, no wonder why an adult trial would seem attractive.
posted by dr_dank at 9:24 AM on February 2, 2005


For everybody's use - In South Carolina, murder is defined as, "the killing of any person with malice aforethought, either express or implied." Note that even though there was a "statutory aggravating circumstance" (the killing of two or more people in a single course of conduct), the prosecutor is seeking the lowest punishment, 30 years, under the Code (the SC Code also allows for life sentences and the death penalty). SC Code 16-3-10 and 16-3-20.
posted by socratic at 9:26 AM on February 2, 2005


Part of the reason we ought to treat kids in a manner different from the way we treat adults, in the justice system, is that kids have a much greater capacity to learn and change their ways, to become a responsible member of society. So the question here ought to be, can we do anything to reform this kid, or is it too late?
posted by Mark Doner at 9:27 AM on February 2, 2005


I don't really see what you mean, OmieWise.

Does someone only decide not to commit crimes because they are aware of the punishments, or because of a moral preemption?

Put more relevantly, if unaware that murdering his grandparents carried a heavy legal sentence, was the child uneducated or immoral when he killed them?
posted by NinjaPirate at 9:27 AM on February 2, 2005


A problem with "tried as an adult" is that teenagers especially young teenagers are undergoing massive brain restructuring. In fact so much activity is happening that teenagers are slower to interpret emotions in others then kids younger then them, there are so many neural "dead ends" for signals to avoid it immeasurable inhibits such functions. They are _not_ adults.

No one here has said he should avoid punishment. But there should be some recognition that what works for adults is not appropriate here, just as what works for children is not appropriate. We tend to think in dichotomies. child/adult white/black evil/good when in fact the real world rarely obliges us by conforming to these notions.

I am not a parent, and have not thought long and hard on what the middle ground should be, but find it absurd that 12 year olds can be tried as an adult.

The seriousness of the offence is a bit of a strawman argument. Should we treat a 9 year old as an adult if he burns down a home killing people? How about a 6 year old who rapes his younger sister? I bet both ages have a since of what they did is wrong.


On preview: At what point do we say, there are basic human laws and regardless of your age you should know them and regardless of your age if you maliciously break these laws you will face consequences?

Any age, but to expect the same consequences for a 23 year old and a 12 year old is off base imo.
posted by edgeways at 9:28 AM on February 2, 2005


Sorry eatdonuts, my suggestion that the kid was beaten was incorrect - bad reading on my part.
posted by NinjaPirate at 9:29 AM on February 2, 2005


crazy finger, Susan Smith pulled the same stunt after she killed her kids by drowning them in a lake.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 9:29 AM on February 2, 2005


Unfortunately, I grew up not 20 minutes away from Chester, SC, which is the town on the skirt of which this boy and his grandparents lived. In the region there exists quite a pervasive undercurrent of racism against Blacks even in the upper middle class, so his blaming the murders, theft and arson on an African American is even more unoriginal than would be elsewhere in the country.

Keeping personal firearms are also quite common in the region. I wonder, however, if he spouted threats of killing others by shotgun often, since his grandparents didn't heed his initial threat by either removing the weapon or calling the police on the kid.
posted by Mister Fyodor at 9:31 AM on February 2, 2005


What's disgusting Fisher? That he was 12 and did something like this? Or that he's being tried as an adult?

Well, both. But I was referring to the latter.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 9:33 AM on February 2, 2005


Just watched a 21 year old plead to rape and kidnapping yesterday. He committed an armed robbery when he was 15 and was tried as an adult. He was found guilty and spent six years in prison. While in prison, he affiliated with a gang to help keep him protected. He was attacked many times in prison, and stabbed once. When he got out at 21 he had none of the innocence that he had at 15. He was a hardened criminal who was taught violence in prison. He lasted two months before his arrest for rape and kidnapping. He was sentenced yesterday to 40 years in prison.

Prisons do not effectively rehabilitate people. I would argue that the younger a person is when he goes in, the less likely that person is to be rehabilitated.
posted by flarbuse at 9:40 AM on February 2, 2005


I think as much as possible the decision about whether to try someone as an adult needs to be divorced from what they actually did. The whole point, really, of having separate rules for children is that they don't have the capacity to fully comprehend the things that they do, even, and possibly especially, when they're quite horrific. "They did something extra bad, so we must treat them like an adult" defies that logic. There ought to be a pre-trial system where competence to stand trial as an adult is determined without reference to the actual crime in question - using psychological profiles and testing, expert testimony, etc, to determine if the child in question possesses the maturity of an adult. I can imagine very few situations in which that would be true of a 12 year old. Similarly, I can imagine quite a number of situations in which it would not be true of a 20 year old.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:42 AM on February 2, 2005


This adult rights argument is disingenuous gibberish. There's no such thing as an adult right which automatically classifies anyone who asserts that right as an adult. Use of a gun does not make one an adult in the same way that children who steal cars or consume alcohol are not adults. There are people who have rights and people who don't, there are also adults and there are children, if you accept that there are behavioural differences between adults and children (and I think society in general tends to do so) then you have to address this in drawing up legislation. You make a distinction in law as to whether adults and children are treated differently or similarly, you specify what that treatment will be, and then you stick to it. Children do not become adults simply because they engage in a behaviour that mimics an adult, they remain children. Reclassifying their behaviour in order to suit some political agenda is an abuse of logic and the judicial process.
posted by biffa at 9:52 AM on February 2, 2005


Edgeway, how should the consequences be different then? Rehabilitation, medication, therapy for the 12 year old and just plain incarceration for the 23 year old? If the death sentence was being discussed for this case, then yeah, 12 year old totally not going to understand they are going to have to be killed because they killed. But we're talking 30 years to life, the lowest possible punishment for this crime.

We almost have to make a crime law code kids for all the same crimes we have adults commit, rape, murder, kidnapping, etc.
posted by nramsey at 9:55 AM on February 2, 2005


Prisons do not effectively rehabilitate people. I would argue that the younger a person is when he goes in, the less likely that person is to be rehabilitated.
I would definately agree with that.
However, in what ways do juvenile and adult prisons vary? (I'm English, and so unaware of the way it works in the States)
posted by wookienookie at 10:01 AM on February 2, 2005


Thanks for your comments, edgeways. I agree with your assessments. One comment you made was something I thought about as well, and that is concerning brain development. The difference between 25 and 12 is not just 13 years. There are very real differences between the brain of a 12-year-old and an adult. I know this Washington Post article is about teens, risk-taking and driving, but I think that the science behind the data is something that can be applied here as well.

[On preview I applaud flarbuse, jacquilynne, and biffa for very eloquent responses.]
posted by terrapin at 10:04 AM on February 2, 2005


wookienookie: I was going to contact you off-site, but you have no contact information listed on your user page. I don't want to turn this thread into a self-link fest (I am associated with the organisation which published the links I used in my first comment), and so I wanted to direct you to more information on so-called juvenile justice in the United States. If you want to learn more about the issue, check out some of the articles in the second link of my first comment.
posted by terrapin at 10:08 AM on February 2, 2005


Pittman had exhibited violent behavior in the past - the choking of his schoolmate is probably only one example, the one for which he got caught. He then proceeded to kill his grandparents. He's apparently on a downward spiral, but what could be done to change that? Adult prison, of course, is a training ground for criminals. But what else can be done for someone like him?

It will be interesting to see if the killers of James Bulger were rehabilitated. These two 10-year-old boys had a history of truancy and shoplifting, and then inexplicably murdered a two-year-old boy. They served eight years in prison and were released with new identities (to protect them against retaliation).
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:31 AM on February 2, 2005


My thought is, there has to be some consistency in the matter. Either a 12 year old is an adult, and should be granted the right to vote, drink, and control his own financial affairs, or he is not. If you imagine yourself with the rights of a twelve year old, it's not so nice -- you have to go to school, you can get locked in a room and lightly beaten, you basically have to do what you're told. In short, not much in the way of rights. And that's honestly probably OK, if you're going to buy into the whole "kids aren't mature enough to make their own decisions" meme.

But if you do buy in, how can you try the same kid as an adult if he offends you, even greviously? You made it very clear, on a societal level, that you didn't consider him an adult. And you cannot say that the deeds involved clearly evidence adult thinking; child stars (and for that matter, high schoolers trying to get into Ivy League schools) work far harder than anyone here and you don't see them getting legal recognition. (We basically only emancipate kids from awful parents, based on the theory that they can't raise themselves any worse.)

The only real answer is that they're punishing him for the crimes they expect him to commit. As a society, we're just barely starting to consider this for sex crimes...to see the thought process leap all the way to youth crime is a bit shocking.

As a note, I like how it's always "youth brains haven't yet learned to fear", instead of the equally correct, "older brains are afraid everything will kill them".
posted by effugas at 10:38 AM on February 2, 2005


As far as I know, Venables and Thompson have been rehabilitated. Most likely they are still being supervised by social workers.
posted by salmacis at 10:43 AM on February 2, 2005


The only real answer is that they're punishing him for the crimes they expect him to commit.

Dosen't any considered application of legal punishment take the probability of future offenses into account?
posted by jonmc at 10:44 AM on February 2, 2005


Lucky for Martha Stewart she wasn't tried as a 19-year-old black man.
posted by waldo at 10:52 AM on February 2, 2005


I perhaps did not express myself as others in this thread who have said what I was trying to say. The problem is not that the kid committed a horrendous crime, it is that he is not cognitively prepared to engage the justice system in the same way that an adult is. That is not to say that he does not know that killing someone is wrong, but just that the circumstances (his age) make his killing someone different than a 25 year old doing it. Not better, different. Not to be treated more leniently, but differently.

Here, for instance, is a brief set of FAQs that makes it clear that not only the sentencing, but also the procedure differs between Adult and Youth court. I would imagine that those procedural differences take into account the cognitive state of a teenager, but they seem to vary by state. One question, for instance, is what to think about the kids confession. Is a twelve year olds confession the same as a 25 year olds? Can it be uncoerced in the same way? This, I have to point out, is a question that has to be considered apart from what the child says in that confession. Talking about adult things, or being unrepentant, does not mean thinking like an adult.

And just to be clear, I am not arguing for leniency. I orginally stated that it seems as if there is a middle system needed to handle heinous crimes.
posted by OmieWise at 11:00 AM on February 2, 2005


Can it be uncoerced in the same way?

I really doubt that there is a such a thing as a truly uncoerced confession. I'm not saying that confessions gained by force or the threats of force should stand, but just about all confessions are obtained through some form of coercion (ie: "tell us what happened and we'll give you some consideration," telling a suspect that they have evidence they don't, etc.) So you can't hang the case for treating juveniles differently entirely on that hook.
posted by jonmc at 11:14 AM on February 2, 2005


And I'm not, but there is coercion and coercion.

Here is a link to paper present by the Joint Center For Poverty Research about this issue of when to try kids as adults. The author identifies three separate but germane questions: When is someone competent to assist in their own defense? When is someone aware of the consequences of their actions? And when is someone past the point of rehabilitation?

It is the first of those questions which interests me, and here is a bit from the intro to that section:

To be considered mentally competent to stand trial an individual must be able to assist counsel as well as demonstrate decisional competence: the ability to understand which rights are maintained and waived, how to enter a plea, and so on. Although some young people certainly possess these capabilities, Steinberg argues that the majority of individuals younger than 12 would fail to meet the decisional competence criteria. On the other hand, most individuals should possess these capabilities once they are older than 16. Individuals between 12 and 16 should be assessed individually to determine their level of competence.

It's no surprise, given the website, what the conclusions are, but I think that some of the points are good, and bear at least consideration.
posted by OmieWise at 11:22 AM on February 2, 2005


OmieWise, I don't disagree that there has to be some discretion on when and how to try juveniles as adults, but it's a complicated question, since it involves balancing the safety of the public against the rights of the individual, like all important legal questions. I just wanted to make a point about coercion that seemed pertinent in this context.
posted by jonmc at 11:34 AM on February 2, 2005


Are we only willing to grant the responsibilities of adulthood, and not the rights?

Bingo.

Also, the reason this is even an issue is because the system for trying people as juveniles is so lacking. It simply was not set up to deal with these sorts of crimes being committed by people of these ages. Fix that, and there will be no need to pretend that people are older than they are to shift them to the adult system.
posted by rushmc at 12:02 PM on February 2, 2005


Individuals between 12 and 16 should be assessed individually to determine their level of competence.

That is not a solution, as reasonable as it may at first sound, because it is impossible to implement a system in which all judgements will be made equally, according to the same criteria, without bias.
posted by rushmc at 12:04 PM on February 2, 2005


On a parallel: damn, the boy seems to be living in a quite unstable mental situation ? Problems with father.. what about mother ? 6 days in a psychriatric center (?) , under anti-depressant drugs and on top of this the granparent is using medieval disciplining methods ("I cause you pain because I love you" absurdity) ..ok better then a prison , but hey a lesser evil isn't a good thing.
posted by elpapacito at 1:15 PM on February 2, 2005


MeTa
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:09 PM on February 2, 2005


elpa--

Wow, that's an unexpected result.

Take your average adult. Beat him, confine him, drug him without his consent. Give him a shotgun.

Tell me he won't shoot his captors.

Not at all justifying what the kid did. Like I said, don't like him, and I'm sickened by his defense. But I'm not sure you get to try him as an adult while saying he deserved what the way he was treated, as he was a child. If he actually was an adult -- especially a 22 year old attractive female adult -- he wouldn't even have been charged. It mattered before that he was 12 and not 22...just not now?

If he was a 22 year old unstable adult living in the care of his grandparents -- lemme tell you, no shotgun in his room.

I wonder why it took three years to take this to trial. Couldn't get a jury to convict him when we was 13?

jonmc--

Given the recividism rate we spawn right now, if we locked people up based on future crimes it would stop making sense to let people out.

One of the problems of privatized prisons is that rehab shrinks the market for your services. The more likely they are to come back, the more money you make.
posted by effugas at 2:32 PM on February 2, 2005


rushmc: That is not a solution, as reasonable as it may at first sound, because it is impossible to implement a system in which all judgements will be made equally, according to the same criteria, without bias

I assume you're being sarcastic; we rely on the same mechanism to put people away for decades or maybe kill them.

I can't find the link at the moment, but SSRI s (Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Aropax) have been previously blamed for suicidal tendencies and spontaneous violence, including murder. The case I'm thinking of (and possibly slightly misremembering) was in Queensland, probably 2003. Some guy who absolutely loved his wife spontaneously decided to kill her shortly after going onto (or withdrawing from) Zoloft.

There are also nasty side-effects reported for the withdrawal from SSRIs
posted by polyglot at 4:01 PM on February 2, 2005


"I don't think this boy had a limited world view on what he had done and what would happen to him if he was caught."

"Are we only willing to grant the responsibilities of adulthood, and not the rights?"

"Individuals between 12 and 16 should be assessed individually to determine their level of competence."

Ahhhh - the American Justice System. Home of the only meritocracy in the entire country.
posted by mce at 7:02 PM on February 2, 2005


Given the recividism rate we spawn right now, if we locked people up based on future crimes it would stop making sense to let people out.

as somebody once said: "Half the people in prison should not be there. The other half should never be let out."
posted by jonmc at 7:18 PM on February 2, 2005


If juveniles are different from adults, then the offense that they are alleged to have committed shouldn't matter. Try them as juveniles.

If you try juveniles as adults, it makes a mockery of the entire juvenile justice system -- if you want to try them as adults, we might as well treat them all the same and throw all juvenile offenders into prisons with adults.

Or, to phrase it another way, trying juveniles as adults is all about vengeance, rather than justice.
posted by Vidiot at 7:32 PM on February 2, 2005


If juveniles are different from adults, then the offense that they are alleged to have committed shouldn't matter

That's an admirable sentiment on certain levels, but it dosen't quite match up with reality.

I agree that in many cases, an offenders age should-no-must be taken into account, but our system is sometimes asked to deal with juvenile offenders committing murder most foul with no remorse. And ultimately the question of public safety has to enter into the equation; in other words: is society safe with this person ever walking the streets a free man again? And that has to take precedence.
posted by jonmc at 7:36 PM on February 2, 2005


Correction: The system is sometimes asked to deal with juvenile offenders who are alleged to have committed murder. That's what a trial is for -- it determines guilt or innocence. I have no objections to, say, taking the punishments that are currently applied to juveniles tried as adults and applying them to juveniles who have been tried in juvenile court and convicted of serious violent crimes.

My main problem with trying juveniles as adults is the tacit assumption of guilt that goes along with it -- "this kid did x, therefore he should be tried as an adult." The presumption of innocence is one of the single greatest characteristics of our judicial system, and we shouldn't deny that to juveniles accused of serious crimes.
posted by Vidiot at 7:43 PM on February 2, 2005


I have no objections to, say, taking the punishments that are currently applied to juveniles tried as adults and applying them to juveniles who have been tried in juvenile court and convicted of serious violent crimes.

Up to and and including life without parole?

If so, then I can't really object, but then the whole issue we've been discussing has been redued to semantics.
posted by jonmc at 9:03 PM on February 2, 2005


Up to and including life without parole.

And I'm anti-semantic. ;-)
posted by Vidiot at 9:26 PM on February 2, 2005


Though I would expect a judge to be even more circumspect in handing down extraordinary sentences such as LWOP to a juvenile, since the juvenile justice system assumes the possibility of rehabilitation...something that the adult justice system seems to have almost entirely forgone.
posted by Vidiot at 9:37 PM on February 2, 2005


I think there are two distinct issues/arguments here: the intent and implementation of our justice system, and the division between expected responsibility shown by juveniles and adults.

On the first point, we can certainly agree that the intent of our justice system is for the sake of society. I think the implementation of this should be some optimal mix of deterrence and rehabilitation. Many of us here would agree that we've long ago passed a sane level of deterrence -- so much so, that we've seen a dramatic decline in our ability to rehabilitate.

Second, and unrelated, is what we expect of an individual's decision-making abilities. I participated in a number of semi-destructive pranks in my early youth, some of which I paid the consequences for. And if I were to do the same things now, I think the consequences should be greater. The damage is no less, but I think it reasonable to expect more of a 20-something than a 10-something. Unfortunately, it really does vary by individual when that age is. But a universal standard isn't an awful compromise.

But the real question is whether there is anything reasonable to expect of a 10-something that we expect of a 20-something. I think there is. As a society we should expect a 12-year-old to know, just as well as an 18-year-old, that killing your grandparents is wrong. It is a failure of judgement and responsibility that transcends 6 years.

The transition from juvenile to adult is the process of coming to understand the impact of your actions on others and society in general. Notions of respect, privacy, sense of safety and well-being, empathy, long-term thinking, and so on, are all fairly abstract. It takes some time, experience, and lots of mistakes to appreciate these concepts.

Murder doesn't take any time to appreciate. Once you understand the concept of death, you cannot choose to specifically, deliberately, and willingly inflict it and be worthy of much deferment on the ground of juvenile indiscretion or irresponsibility.

Drunk-driving teenagers out on a wild weekend who kill a family in a accident -- that's awful, but they should be tried as juveniles. They lacked the age, wisdom, and experience to truly appreciate what they had been told -- the irresponsibility of their actions. None of it quite seemed true or applied to them. It happened to other people, in other towns, but not to them. It's an abstract concept.

Walking into a house, and firing a shotgun into someone's face isn't lacking in maturity or abstractness -- it's murder.

Should a 12-year-old murderer have a different course of rehabilitation than a 22-year-old murderer? Most likely. But most 22-year-old murderers should probably have different courses of rehabilitation, too.

And that's the point; we get into an uproar over age, when really our concern is that we are not doing any of right. Be pissed about the kids we destroy, but be just as upset at all of the other aged people we destroy, too. Picking a heinous "champion" on the basis of an ethically gray distinction is ridiculous and counterproductive.
posted by swash at 11:53 PM on February 2, 2005


we rely on the same mechanism to put people away for decades or maybe kill them.

Yes, and it is profoundly flawed.
posted by rushmc at 5:35 PM on February 4, 2005


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