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Either They Are Kids Or They Are Adults: No Flip Flops

craigfarmer

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SEE THE CASE OF A 12 YEAR OLD TRIED CONVICTED, AND SENTENCED AS AN ADULT

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/16/national/16zoloft.html?



These are the types of cases where true liberals need to get to work. We at once should be sympathetic to keeping a safe and orderly society, while simultaneously promoting justice. The details of this case in which a 12 year old child committed two homicides is truly disturbing. The questions raised are numerous and very significant:



The most pressing one is: Are children capable of making adult decisions either for good or bad? There are thousands of laws throughout our great land that limit the rights and the opportunities of children based presumably on their diminshed capacity to reason and their lack of maturity. In general, there isn't any ability for an individual to demonstrate that she/he is competent enough to make adult decisions and receive some type of exemption from these restrictions. The focus of the laws range from body piercing, curfews, permission to engage in sports, into more serious areas such as alcohol use and age-based crimes such as statutory rape. In the latter, some jurisdictions have a policy of not reviewing the specifics and pursuing convictions based solely on pre-conceived standards.

It is with this background that I say it is IMMORAL to punish someone who commits a heinous crime at 12 as if he were 21, 31, or 41. We through our laws, say this same individual doesn't have the judgement to drive a car, take a drink of alcohol, smoke a cigarette, give permission for himself to go on field trips, take an aspirin in school, make medical decisions about his body; yet he is reasonable enough to form the intent to commit a murder. His punishment should fit the model that we placed on him in the other 99% of his life.

My true beliefs are that many 12 years are able to form the necessary intent to commit murder, and should be punished as such. Yet, this would set up a situation where that child is 12 for anything "positive" (his point of view ), and an adult for the purposes of many negative activities. Think how riduculous it is that this same child can't buy a violent rap CD because we think he's too young to deal with this art.

My solution is to lower the age of responsibility for many/if not all dangerous activities, and then treat people based on their actual ability to function. If not we should be more judicious and increase the age for adult criminal liability. Of course the latter is unlikely because of the devastating headlines of the terrible things many youngsters are doing that show their evil intent.

Perhaps if they were allowed to use their complete faculties with less restrictions, the level of youth violence might decrease. Even if it doesn't, it is plain and simple the right thing to do: Treat people with one standard not a double.

I choose allowing children dramatically more freedom in their lives so that it equals the responsibility we will also demand.

I'm certainly not asserting that our laws should never have contradictions, but in general two sets of laws should be able to explain to our citizens what is expected and demanded on them in a fair manner.



......



The actual defense in this case concerning the medicine is a separate issue. Surely we all know that different people may respond in a unique way to the same drug, yet the standard set in this case was whether there was a proven link between this particular drug and violence. The jurors were place in a terrible position where they were asked to make judgements that couldn't be very well informed, and render opinions as lay people that scientists haven't settle on.



Finally, we need to close the gap between the attention we afford commercial products in terms of safety, and the lack of accountability for gun violence by the manufacturers, the retailers, and the adults who own them. There are trade-offs in a free society that should be explained more clearly to the public. One such is that a gun may be used to protect you from criminal harm, but often it is used to hurt someone in your home either by accident or in a temporary rage. Advocates on both sides should try to agree on the facts, and then argue the significance of them, rather than ignoring bad headlines for their side.



These are some of the many issues in the Criminal Justice System that needs reform. Democrats should develop an agenda that can change our laws so they make more sense, and keep us more safe.



Craig Farmer

making the word "liberal" safe again
 

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This is such a tragic case. I don’t understand how the jury came to their verdict but they must have had enough evidence . From all accounts I have read the boy had a very dysfunctional family, abandoned by his mother and an Abusive father. What are these people thinking when they prescribe these mind altering drugs to kids as a substitute for decent parents or family life. He probably won’t get much for a sentence -- not that it makes the outcome any better.

Christopher was prescribed Zoloft for depression several weeks before the killing. When relatives noticed he was becoming more agitated and appeared "wired," Christopher went back to the doctor, who upped the dose, Vickery said.

On the day before the murders, Christopher got into a fight with a boy on the school bus and his grandparents were called to his school. Prosecutors said they will prove Christopher decided to kill his grandparents because they punished him for fighting.

"They disciplined him verbally, and [they also] possibly [disciplined him] physically with a paddle," Giese said. "Chris Pittman would not, and could not, take that discipline. Even though the state submits it was well deserved, he would not take it. He laid in his room and waited until the Pittmans went to bed. He waited and planned exactly what he was going to do that night."
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