Comments about ‘In our opinion: Juvenile redemption’

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Published: Friday, March 23 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

I agree wholeheartedly.

Science tells us the brain is not fully developed until the early 20s. As parents, we have witnessed the same. Our justice system should reflect a responsibility for crime that grows as the person ages. Full legal responsibility (and the full age of majority) should wait until at least age 20. 21 might be better still.

This does not mean that there can be no culpability. Nor that someone who commits a crime at 18 or 19 cannot serve a reasonable prison term. But the length of the sentence, the place where time is served, and the supports offered to the offender must reflect their age.

Treating children as adults because their actions are heinous feeds our desire for justice for the victims. But it totally robs justice for the perpetrator. We need a fully balanced system.

John Charity Spring
Back Home in Davis County, UT

This is a surprising left wing attitude from the DNews. It is unfortunate because it is attitudes like this that have led to a high crime rate placing the public in danger.

For far too long, the left wing has pushed for a soft approach to juvenile crime. Indeed, the left would have us react to violent crime committed by juveniles by passing out popcorn and bubble gum, rather than actual punishment. This approach has never worked before, and it doesn't work now.

In this paper alone in the past year, there have been stories about juveniles committing murder with guns, committing murder with knives, and committing violent sex offenses. A soft-headed mushy response to these crimes will only lead to more of them.

Juvenile crime must be met with a swift and severe response. Anyone who wishes to protect society will agree whole-heartedly.

Esquire
Springville, UT

This is truly a great editorial. Thank you for it. The U.S. justice system is a mess, leaving us with the highest incarceration rate in the world by a very large margin (far higher than Russia, China, Cuba or any other nation). Are we an inherently bad people, worse than anyone else in the world? Or do we pursue the wrong policies, ones that are vindictive and oppressive? Our policies destroy lives, and the costs to society are high, beyond the burden to the taxpayers. We can do better, but we have taken the "easy" way out, appealing to emotions rather than the real needs of individuals and our entire nation.

  • 7:24 a.m. March 23, 2012
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John Charity Spring
Back Home in Davis County, UT

Perhaps twin lights and esquire would like to be the ones to tell the familes of murder victims that the killers of their loved ones will only be getting a slap on the wrist because they are juveniles? Perhaps the families will feel less pain knowing that their loved ones were killed by juveniles, rather than adults?

The irrefutable fact is that violent crime is no less devastating for a victim simply because the perpetrator was a juvile. The pain, the loss, and the damage is the same. As a society, we simply cannot allow violent criminals to roam free, no matter what their age happens to be.

There is a good reason why we have a higher incarceration rate than China: China executes their criminals in a swift and decisive manner. The incarceration rate certainly is lower when most criminals are dead.

Esquire
Springville, UT

I sorry, John Charity Spring, but your arguments are just plain wrong and vindictive. No one is saying there is not a problem. But we are pursuing the wrong course of action. There are many examples of victim families who know that revenge is a short-sighted answer, corrosive and un-Christian. And as for China, even if I accepted your assertion on its face that they just execute pretty much everyone, may I point out that China is 117 on the list. The US incarcerates 743 per 100,000, the next nation is Rwanda at 595 per 100,000, followed by Georgia and Russia. It is not even close. The next major first world Western country is the UK at 156 per 100,000. Sorry, but the question still remains, are we a terrible people or are our judicial policies messed up?

Rifleman
Salt Lake City, Utah

There are two categories of convicted criminals who have been paroled from prison that I don't want living next door to me: Sex offenders who have molested small children and cold blooded killers who have demonstrated their total lack of mercy for their victim or the suffering they cause to the victim's families.

Owl
Salt Lake City, UT

Is there an evidence-based program for rehabilitation of young offenders? Most of the current philosophies are based on revenge (Lock 'em up.) or sympathy (Oh, the poor child.), both of which can lead to unfortunate consequences. Emotional advocates on either side seem unable to justify their philosophies by offering a clearly effective solution. Young offenders probably outgrow their criminal activities, but the justice system is woefully short of rational approaches that lead to the greater good.

VocalLocal
Salt Lake, UT

@John Charity Spring
First of all I don't see how punishment repairs wrongs that have been done. Someone rotting in prison doesn't bring people back or heal wounds of victims-unless you honestly believe revenge has a healing effect. Second countries with LESS severe punishments in Europe actually have significantly lower crime rates than the U.S. so saying that liberals making less severe punishments is increasing crime simply isn't true. I agree we have to have consequences but I also believe in second chances-particularly for the very young who, if given the right supervision and help, are likely to become good citizens in spite of making poor choices.

Gildas
LOGAN, UT

Nehor condemned to die because he shed blood of righteous man, Alma 1:13–14
he who murders is punished unto death, Alma 1:18 (Alma 30:10).
law requires the life of him who has murdered, Alma 34:12

he who kills shall die, D&C 42:19
those who kill will be delivered to law of land, D&C 42:79

VIDAR
Murray, UT

Having worked for many years in facilities for seriously delinquent youth; allow me to make the following observations.
If there is any time that we have a chance to stop the cycle of criminality it is when they are juveniles.
Programs do work in reducing juvenile crime; most kids who become involved in the juvenile court system do not become career criminals.
If we moved juvenile crime to the adult system it would increase crime.
The cost to incarcerate a person is 50k a year; if we put the kind of money in prevention we would save a lot of money.
We put nowhere close to enough money into prevention; it seems we would rather pay more for incarceration.
Almost to 100% the cause of serious juvenile crime is child abuse.
I never found a serious female offender that had not been sexually abused.
Kids do not have access to guns; unless adults give it to them; or are careless with their weapons.

VIDAR
Murray, UT

Gildas
LOGAN, UT

The way you pick, and rail split Mormon scripture, makes it seem your god is a very vengeful and angry god.
The bible teaches:
Luke 7:47-48 “…Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.

Acts 10:42-43 “…And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name

Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you

Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

Imprisoning young boys and turning them into criminals is abusive. Joseph Smith taught, "Feed them, educate them, treat them tenderly." The get-tough crowd (mostly Republicans) don't like that kind of talk.

Rifleman
Salt Lake City, Utah

Re: Irony Guy 12:00 p.m. March 23, 2012
"Imprisoning young boys and turning them into criminals is abusive."

Killing someone is what turns a young boy into a criminal. You are right about one thing: Republicans don't buy into the concept of treating a cold blooded killer "tenderly".

They refer to it as taking personal responsibility for their actions .... and that implies accepting the consequences.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

IMO... that all depends on what they did, how they did it, and how they responded after doing it, and if they WANT redemption (which is NOT the same thing as wanting to get out of jail).

"Redemption" and "get out of jail" are two TOTALLY different things in my mind.

John Charity Spring
Back Home in Davis County, UT

Esquire has raised an excellent point. There is something seriously wrong with a society which churns out juvenile delinquents like there is no tomorrow. Such a society must be reformed.

Our society is raising young people in a way that leads to criminal behavior. Children are raised by parents who are too busy to do anything other than have their kids play violent, sexually explicit video games. The kids only take a break from these games to watch equally violent/explicit movies and listen to similar music.

What is even worse is that when these juveniles commit violent crime, they are treated with softness and indulgence. Despite being crimials, these kids are smart and they figure they might as well keep doing what they are doing because they won't be punished.

Lastly, locking violent juveniles up is not and act of revenge, it is an act of protecting society. Citizens should be able to live in peace without being raped or murdered by violent juveniles who should be locked up.

Gildas
LOGAN, UT

@VIDAR

The emotions, vices and virtues you cite(forgiveness, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice) have nothing to do with why a killer might be executed.

It has, otoh, to do with protecting the innocent against those who take human life. If you merely imprison killers they may (and often do) kill again. It has to do with "Justice" which you didn't mention either, the constant need to assert that the life of a killer is not more important than the life of his or her victim or victims. It is also about deterrence. If there were no law that if a man kills he should himself die, would a killer be afraid he would die if he deliberately killed an innocent person? It is about placing justice in a proper relationship with mercy. "Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy". A killer has shown no mercy. Mercy cannot rob justice.

Each of these things(Justice, Protection of the innocent, and Deterrence)require the life of the murderer who deliberately takes a human life. Each is a positive quality not a negative.

LValfre
CHICAGO, IL

Outside of cold blooded murder and sex offences, how many kids go to jail for non-violent offenses (think small weed and drug sales) and come out violent criminals after associating with the violent ones?

The system is messed up. The drug was was initially started to stop minorities ... weed was illegalized which ended up with many Mexican immigrant laborers being jailed... leaving jobs for the whites.

Cocaine was illegalized leaving many black musicians in New Orleans in jail.

Today, the most poverished areas have the most drug sales because ... they have no money! Drug sales can make anyone money, you don't need an education, you don't need strong family support, etc. That's why drug crimes are so common in poverty. Most of these poverished areas are full of minorities.

There are so many minorities in jail for petty drug sales it's ridiculous. Give these kids a chance.

People change ... if you let them. < --- A Profound Statement

ScottZ
Holladay, 00

It seems to me that the Deseret News, for the most part missed the point. The issue before the Supreme Court isn’t about rehabilitating juveniles that were caught stealing hubcaps.

It’s about only approximately 2200 (quoting from another article on the internet) juveniles that have been convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. I don’t think that anyone would disagree that we should emphasize rehabilitation over punishment for the thousands and thousands of juveniles convicted of lesser crimes.

When the Deseret News says, “In no way do we wish to rob individuals of their accountability to society's basic rules of just conduct. All need to understand that punishment is a consequence of crime.” as true as that statement is, it's like a politician saying, “We need to stimulate the economy and create more jobs!” Both statements sound great, but exactly how do you propose do it?

Balancing justice and punishment in murder cases is a great idea, but all I’ve heard so far is rhetoric that it should be done, nothing specific about how it could be done.

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