posted on Aug, 11 2006 @ 10:52 AM
Under English Common Law as imported into the US since 1607, children were tried for their crimes and no regard or distinction was paid to their
“tender” years. Penal reform was tried in the 19th century first in Pennsylvania. Even the name was changed from “prison” to
The lot of the poisoner has always been hard - say harsh. Too many people in our society have a mean streak, nay, a cruel streak. I’ve read you can
tell a lot about a society by how it treats its miscreants. If that be true, then America would be one place I'd want to avoid on a world tour.
Sometime in the early 20th century the concept of treating young people accused of crimes differently from mature adults became popular. Usually age
of 16 was chosen to delineate between minority status and majority status. Age wise. Unfortunately for that well intended concept, it seems our youth
are committing more heinous crimes at earlier ages which confounds us adults.
The Federal government - to its credit - does not have a juvenile law but it does have a “youthful offender” provision that uses 26 ½ as the
cut-off age. This is no “free ride” law, and it only applies to first offenders. It does allow the Judge, or now more often, a Magistrate, to give
reduced sentences including probation, to offenders where the psychological evaluation reports indicate this approach will be as beneficial to the
offender as to society. As I said above, this is no “free pass” law.
Maturity is the key word or operative word in all age related provisions. Now it becomes esoteric. A battle of the experts. How mature to you have to
be? How do you measure maturity? Does murder require (or is it indicate?) more or less maturity than say, car theft? Just what is maturity, any how?
Isn’t it really all about protecting society? How much protection does society need or require in each case? Or can it afford? Ugh, what started
out as simple suddenly becomes complex. It is obvious that while “one size fits all” may apply to socks, it is not applicable to people.
In Ky where I have a small amount of experience, new prisoners are first held 30 days in an evaluation and indoctrination center. This protects the
prison from communicable diseases, too. After the Interview the prisoner is classified based on physical size, propensity for violence, mental
acuity, emotional health, age and gender orientation. Prisoners are then placed with other prisoners of like kind.
Most state juvenile laws have been modified in the past 20 years to allow for holding a juvenile in confinement well past the former mandatory release
day of the 18th birthday. Ky allows a consenting juvenile prisoner to be held up to his 24th birthday. Six extra years. If the person does not
consent to this provision , then he will be tried as an adult, and at 18, be moved from a juvenile facility into the adult prision system to finish
his sentence. This provision is only available if offered by the prosecutor. I expect most states have similar rules and practices today.
No matter how much we tinker with the rules and laws, we will never get it fixed in 100% of the cases. I don’t know what crime this person
committed - aggravated murder I think - but it is not too important to what I posted. That would not change anything I have said above.
There are many serious issues America needs to address about prisons and prisoners, how they are operated and what goals they are expected to achieve.
Although I once worshiped at the “Trial by Jury” altar, after watching that for a lifetime, I am now convinced the Napoleonic Code’s
Inquisitorial System is the better one, at least for trying crimes. But that’s for another thread.
[edit on 8/11/2006 by donwhite]