To begin, several inferences have to be established.
The international community does not completely follow the example of countries who have life sentencing for murderers. Since the topic can be
applied to any given country, I have focused my attention to the United States of America. Covering all other countries would be too expansive in my
opinion, and the U.S. system of law is a good example. Second, the focus of the debate is on the children who have received life sentences for their
extreme crime, as I will explain.
The amount of children in prison with life sentences for murder, is a small portion of the entire prison population. According to Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch, the estimated amount of children serving life sentencing without parole in the U.S. is close to 2600. This is
compared to 1 in 10 of the nations prisoners whom are serving life sentences, back in 2005. One must understand that for a child to receive this kind
of sentencing, the circumstances must be so great. In the U.S., this varies by State, but the general consensus is that the perpetrator must have
acted on his own, on his feelings while using coordination, and tact. Even though feelings, and emotions can be so great, it is the responsibility of
the individual to understand why it is not right to take the life or the livelihood of another individual when it is done out of pure malice.
There are many examples of the crimes committed by some of the children in prison for life.
One night in August 1999, Jones and her 16-year-old boyfriend, Geramie Hart, angered by her family's disapproval of their relationship, went to
her home in Birmingham, Alabama.
They set her grandfather on fire with lighter fluid, stabbed him and shot him dead.
They also stabbed and shot dead Jones' aunt in her bedroom and set her grandmother on fire.
In this example, Ashley Jones at the time was 14 years old. Together with her boyfriend, they maliciously executed a coordinated plan to rid herself
of the family because they did not approve of their relationship. She acted on illogical emotions that may have obviously been influenced by her
boyfriend. Regardless, she committed this murder, acted the same way an adult may act over something like this situation.
Miller and accomplice Colby Smith killed Cole C. Cannon, 52, in his mobile home July 15, 2003. The two teens, 14 and 16 at the time, allegedly
stole baseball cards and $350 from Cannon before beating him with a baseball bat, setting his mobile home on fire and leaving him to die.
Michael Miller robbed this man because he wanted some baseball cards. Did he kill him to get rid of the evidence? This is an adult thought process
being shown by children so young. Mr. Cannon had a right to live. Because Michael understood what he was doing he annot possible be released into
society, not after this.
Cases such as the above are just a few examples of the reason why a child of 14 years or younger, receive sentences covering their entire life. It is
unconstitutional in the U.S. to execute a minor, so the only options at this time is to imprison the murderer or release him back into society. There
are cases were children receive life sentences for other crimes besides murder. Some may receive it because of less severe crimes such as repeated
In one of the cases, Graham v. Florida, Terrance Graham was 17-years-old and on parole when he broke into a man's home and robbed him at
gunpoint. Graham pleaded guilty to armed burglary and was sent to prison for the rest of his life. The judge who imposed the sentence concluded that
Graham had wasted his second chance at freedom and was a significant threat to society.
This trend by an individual is most definitely dangerous, but even I agree that some sentences are based on corrupt reasoning, by enforcers of the
law, and maybe even society as a whole. A child who may be engaged in such crimes may in essence be eligible for rehabilitation, but the risk is
still present. A child, or an adult who coordinates a murder, will do it again if they get away with it. It is only when they are serving prison
time when they feel they need forgiveness and that they can change.
The mind of a murderer, is the mind of a psychopath. A psychopath will lie, and deceive in order to further their personal agenda. Can we really
trust that these criminals are telling us the truth when they say they have changed? In the above examples one can easily see that children can think
like adults. The act of killing someone does not differentiate from a child to an adult, if it is done out of pure malice.
Because your defense may lead to the success of rehabilitating murderers, what success have rehabilitation programs had on
reforming and releasing convicted murderers back into society?
Considering the points presented, do you believe that a person whom has taken the life of another in a murderous plot, have a
right to life outside of a control within society?