NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

April 11, 2014

Ruling on juveniles not fair to their victims

To the editor:

I am writing this letter in response to the AJC’s ruling that juveniles convicted of first-degree murder and were sentenced to life in prison without parole will now be coming up for parole “sooner rather than later.” They say it is “cruel and unusual punishment” to spend their life behind bars. They say that “the brain of a juvenile is not fully developed, whether structurally or functionally by the age of 18,” and that “due to their physical and emotional maturity are prone to dangerous and rash behavior.”

Juveniles are prone to planning out a killing of, for example, an innocent 15-year-old girl, luring her to a friend’s house on the pretense of talking to her, then purposefully bringing a baseball bat with him, knowing he was going to take his bare hands, use that bat, and the bludgeon her to death because she would not date him? Juveniles are prone to this dangerous and rash behavior? I would give almost all juveniles way more credit than this. Life in prison with no parole for a crime like this “cruel and unusual punishment.”

The worst part of this ruling is that no matter how horrific the way the victim was murdered, premeditated or not, tortured or not, raped or not, etc., the ruling does not allow any of that to be taken into consideration. No matter how heinous the crime, the killer will come up for parole in 15 years and yet this juvenile brain “that is not fully developed either structurally or functionally” on the day that brain turns 18 can legally marry or join the armed forces to serve our country, and be given a weapon, trained to kill, and be sent off to war. So it’s OK to use this not fully developed brain for this?

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