Thursday, July 19, 2012

Second Chances are Often Regretted

An editorial was posted on Monday, June 25th, 2012 concerning the Supreme Court's ruling that state laws mandating that defendants younger than 18 years old that are convicted of murder be sentenced to life in prison, without the option of parole is cruel and unusual punishment, violating the 8th amendment. The author of the editorial believes this to be a good decision, due to the fact that scientific studies show that a juvenile's brain shows a significant lack of deeper understanding and impulsive and reckless behavioral tendencies. The Supreme Court's decision was based on the studies showing that juvenile's often fail to thoroughly think through their consequences and their maturity level, response to peer pressure and their family background. The author agrees with the Supreme Court, the juvenile's brain is too unpredictable, rapidly changing, and quickly adapting.

 However, in my opinion, even if you are 7 or 9, children know that murder is wrong. In the case of Evan Miller, a 14 year old kid that beat up a 52 year old neighbor with a bat and set his neighbor's house on fire, I don't believe that Evan simply was "too young to understand the consequences of his actions". Although Evan had a very tough, sad, and extreme child hood which no one should every be raised in, he is old and wise enough to understand that murder is morally impermissible and unacceptable unless it falls under the scope of self-defense. His brain may be young, impulsive and reckless but that is no excuse to allow this individual to be let loose in the wild with a slap on the wrist and a stern "talking to". His actions speak louder than the apologies and regret he may express, and if any individual is capable of taking another person's life, they should be treated as an adult for their unlawful actions. I don't agree with the Supreme Court's ruling, it's allowing unfair treatment for children that demonstrate equally heinous behavior as adult without nearly the same consequences. Yes, as the author mentioned, if you imprison a child below 18 for life sentence without a chance of parole, that deprives the child of every experiencing life in this world. However, if we, as a nation, have the opportunity to deal punishment equally to children as we would with adults, this would deter children from committing morally impermissible crimes and blame it on a lack of deep understanding. It doesn't take the brain capacity needed to learn rocket science to understand when someone is dead, unable to regain consciousness and breathe another breath, children can skate through the criminal justice system free of any real consequences or punishment due to age. I assert that we treat them fairly, you are dealt what you deal. 

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