On The Flip Side
Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 23:01
Remembering the Lives Lost
by Ryan Towey
Asst. Metro Editor
The recent proposal to handle murder trials involving a teenage defendant with a greater emphasis on rehabilitation has good intentions, but ultimately ignores the most important issue at hand.
It seems that in an effort to rehabilitate the lives of teenage murderers, lawmakers have forgotten the lives lost. If lawmakers move to decrease the likelihood of a life sentence for a teenage murderer, they will ignore the sanctity of life that was destroyed by human hands—regardless of how youthful those hands may have been.
With that said, cases involving young offenders ought to be treated with the utmost sensitivity, especially by the media, not only for the sake of shocked and confused families, but also for the sake of a young individual who may have only been an innocent person in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In the event that a young offender is deemed guilty, however, one must remember that the court system is not designed primarily around the rehabilitation of criminals. Rather, the court system’s most important charge ought to be to protect the citizenry. A murder is no ordinary crime. It is understandable to issue little more than a warning and a mandatory driving class to a reckless driver on the road, especially if his actions have yet to harm fellow drivers. But in the case of a murder, the damage has already been done. No warning—no rehabilitation—will return the murdered to life.
The Supreme Court may have been misguided in last year’s Miller v. Alabama case, in which it decided that laws that levied automatic life sentences without parole for juveniles should be considered cruel and unusual punishment.
It is hard to see what is cruel and unusual about a life sentence when a life has already been lost. While some cite evidence that younger offenders may be more easily rehabilitated than older offenders, it is important to remember that rehabilitation should not be the goal of imprisonment.
Rather than try to rehabilitate an individual that has already committed a crime, more time and effort ought to be put into preventing issues that may have caused the murder in the first place, such as a lack of attention to mental health.
The goal of imprisonment should be to keep criminals far removed from innocent citizens. If there is even the slightest chance that a murderer could repeat his crimes, then he ought to remain imprisoned, for fear that another innocent life—an irreplaceable one—will be taken.
Youths Deserve Second Shot
by Meghan Kelleher
For The Heights
Murder will always be the most horrid and unforgivable crime known. Someone, at any age, who is capable of taking another person’s life is, without a doubt, a threat to society. However, children who commit the crime may not be entirely educated on just how horrifying the act truly is. Our media is flooded with warfare games and talk of gang violence. Many children are brought up in communities that do not portray murder to be the heinous moral failure that it is. For example, children raised in places ridden with gang violence are likely to grow up around weaponry and constant talk of violence, crime, and, most pressingly, murder. These children have been raised to believe that problems are solved through violent acts. These children have been desensitized to the horrors of killing another human being because violence and death are so prevalent in their lives.
But, who is to say that a fourteen year old is incapable of understanding what he or she has done and why the act was so unforgivable by the age of twenty-nine? Education and mentoring are crucial in the upbringing of any child. Children without proper guidance will grow into unstable, and often dangerous adults. Children under the age of seventeen are not only underdeveloped in their social maturity, but also undeveloped biologically. The human brain is far from fully developed at the age of seventeen. The unstable children cannot be forgiven for the crime at hand, but many of them, with the help of educators, are capable of becoming stable enough to live without posing a threat to society. Fifteen years or more of life in a controlled environment separated from the brutality of gang violence, from destructive parents, or from any other factors that lead the child to murder another person could potentially transform him or her into a completely different person than when he was incarcerated.
Perhaps children who develop a relationship with a counselor while incarcerated should be released on parole with this figure as their continued mentor. He or she may potentially be less likely to return to a life of crime if he feels that he is disappointing a stable parental-like figure. The plan that Governor Deval Patrick is proposing will in no way assure convicted children future parole, but only propose this as an opportunity. Although their crimes are unforgivable, many incarcerated children deserve a life outside of prison bars.