It happens every day. In fact, it is pretty hard to avoid it. There are some things that can only be understood with a slap on the forehead. Things so mind-boggling that one wonders how humans managed to evolve thumbs while being this mentally inept. Case in point:
Americans believe in stiff punishment. But U.S. courts long applied a more forgiving standard when the accused was a juvenile.
Then in the late 1980s and early 1990s, alarm over violent youth crime set off widespread fears. In state after state, lawmakers and prosecutors decided to get tough.
Many states began requiring that juveniles accused of first-degree murder be tried as adults. To show they meant business, lawmakers mandated stiffer punishments.
Today, inmates in 39 states and a federal prison are serving life without parole for crimes they committed as youngsters. Five states — Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Michigan, Florida and California — account for two-thirds of the cases documented by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
Tougher laws were applauded by prosecutors and victims’ advocates as necessary tools to fight crime and protect the public.
Of course prosecutors and victims’ advocates applaud these kinds of laws. Children are fully capable of behaving, thinking and understanding as an adult would. After all:
“If they can do these kinds of crimes, then they’ve got to face the punishment,” says Maggie Elvey, a California activist whose husband, Ross, was beaten to death in 1993 by two teens, ages 15 and 16.
However, what does that mean when some 14-year-old girl has sex with a 35-year-old man? According to prosecutors and victims’ advocates she would be completely incapable of consenting to sex because her age and her mentality prevent her from thinking and behaving as an adult. Even if she were mature, it still would not slide. But if she committed an act violence, now she is capable of thinking and behaving as an adult.
In the end it is all about punishment, not protection. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the reason for the adult charge has nothing to do with the crime in and of itself. If it did, then adult women would be sentenced to life without parole for their murders rather than being placed in mental institutions. To the contrary, the reason for adult charges is for the sentencing. In most states juveniles are released at 21 years of age. In order to get a stiffer sentence, children as young as 10-years-old are charged as adults so that prosecutors can charge them with potentially decades of prison time rather than a few years. And the stiffer the sentence, the better the political backing.
Of course, there always are–and there really is no nice way to phrase this–fuck ups. For instance:
Addolfo Davis was only 14, but he’d already known plenty of trouble — the child of a Chicago crack addict, he’d been arrested for shoplifting, robbery and other offenses starting when he was 10. Then, in October 1990, Davis joined two other teens — one 16, the other 18 — in something far worse.
The trio, all carrying guns, headed to the third-floor apartment of a rival drug dealer, and when it opened, pushed inside.
One of the men inside knocked Davis’ gun away and ran. But Davis’ companions began shooting, killing two and wounding two others.
After he was arrested, Davis was transferred to adult court, in part because of his prior record. When he was convicted of murder — found accountable although he hadn’t fired a shot — the law made it clear he would be sentenced to life. Today, he is 31.
This case will stand alongside that of the King brothers as one of the most insane sentences ever given. How exactly one can be convicted of murder without actually committing murder is beyond all reason. However, humans are not known for their grasp of such concepts.
Granted, no prosecutor has the integrity to admit laws like this are about as brilliant as placing a child in an adult prison. For all their concern about protecting the public, they have no hesitation with doing just that, even to the extent of actually placing a minor in a cell with a violent adult inmate. And whatever ensues is also far beyond their realm of interest or concern, which is why it more common to see prosecutors defending guards and prison officials when issues of prison violence and prison rape arise rather than actually serving the law and those whose rights have been violated.
No prosecutor, judge and, to a certain extent, even victims’ advocate actually cares that the very laws they emphatically endorse are a total contradiction to the views and morals they claim to hold. They can push that aside because the child being charged as an adult deserves to be punished, preferably as harshly as humanly possible. And yet, if a parent or guardian acted in the same fashion, they would decry those actions with fullness of their being, calling it ‘abuse’ and ‘rape’ and ‘torture’ and ‘inhuman.’
Again how convenient and utterly stupid.