First of all, let me state that I do not believe in the death penalty. I used to believe in it in certain circumstances, but I’ve pretty much shifted to the complete abolition of that particular punishment.
Secondly, I have not blacked out/redacted anyone’s names because these were comments made on a local television show’s Facebook page. I wouldn’t have redacted any belonging to anyone saying anything ignorant (I’m looking at you woman who advocates executing 10 year old kids if they kill someone) anyway. I figure that if you’re ignorant enough to say something that bad publicly, then you public shaming is probably not the worst way to go.
So, let me break things down. A few years ago, Hammad Memon went into his school, shot a fellow classmate, got arrested, was let out on bail, tried to flee the country (he has dual citizenship), and now he’s made a plea deal to spend thirty years in prison. He was 14 when he committed the crime, as was the victim, Todd Brown. Now, he’s 17. People around here are acting butthurt because a 17 year old kid who killed someone when he was 14 isn’t being put in prison for life or being executed for his crime.
Now, if you haven’t paid attention to recent (as in the last decade) SCOTUS rulings regarding the death penalty, the Supreme Court ruled that anyone convicted of a capital crime could not be executed if they did so while under the age of 18. They did this in 2005. (It’s called Roper v. Simmons, if you want to check it out.) Prior to that ruling, it was unconstitutional to kill a kid convicted of a capital crime if they were 16 or younger at the time—that one was Stanford v. Kentucky and decided in 1989. Before that, a fourteen year old could have been executed. If you feel that it is a travesty that a fourteen year old cannot be executed, then I will suggest this: leave my blog now. I’m serious. Go away now.
Why is it important to not execute kids?
- Your brain doesn’t finish developing until you’re into your twenties.
- Adolescents are known for being reckless and engaging in reckless behaviors. This is not only due to their brain’s immaturity, it is also due to their social immaturity and their lack of a full concept of what it means to be responsible for their actions.
- If you don’t trust a teenager to kill for their country (military), engage in political discourse (vote) participate fully in the judicial process (serve on juries), or get married without their parents’ approval, then you shouldn’t be ending their lives.
- You remember hearing about peer pressure? Well, teenagers are more likely to be influenced by negative/outside pressures.
- Younger people have a longer time in their life to actually be rehabilitated should they be released and given the appropriate access to programs to better their lives.
- Many people feel that capital punishment is cruel and unusual punishment, but are especially turned off by the idea of the sacrifice of a child’s life.
And guess which comment really pissed me off. If you think it’s this one, then you’re right:
I don’t care if he was 14! I wouldn’t care if he was 10! He took another child’s life! someone’s child! And that family had to stand there and hear that he only gets 30 years for killing their child! I think he should’ve gotten life w/o parole or the death penalty. And all of you talking about God having forgiven him, how do you even know if he is Christian? He probably doesn’t even have a relationship with God.
Seriously? Are you fucking with me on this? You don’t care that he was 14 and you wouldn’t care care if he was 10. TEN?! You’re cool with killing a 10 year old child. A fucking ten year old kid. Hypothetically that is cool for you? Um, no. No! NO. NO! In general, I don’t believe in evil, but I’m willing to make an exception for this woman. Advocating the execution of a hypothetical ten year old child is about as close to evil as I can imagine anyone getting. I’ve met (and lived with) adult sociopaths. I’ve met kids who were on their way to potentially being sociopaths. I’ve also seen them not turn into them after being rehabilitated. Why were they able to be rehabilitated? Because of their age. If we’re willing to just execute a kid because they committed a heinous crime as a child, then why even have kids? If we’re not going to even give them a shot to get better, to atone for their actions, etc., then why bother with having the kids in the first place? If you’re just going to kill them off if they break a law, then why would you even bring them into the world?
And everyone’s obsession with God around here. If this were a Joss Whedon show, this obsession with God would indicate that there was a hellmouth nearby. Believing or not believing in a religious doctrine is a personal thing. I don’t think we should determine someone’s punishment based on whether or not they have a strong faith in any religion. If we start doing that, then we’re violating other parts of that lovely little thing called the Constitution. (It would be the State using religion to persecute people, which is a big no-no.)
Anyway, I’m pissed at the people around here who are so willing to just condemn some kid that they don’t know. It’s fucking messed up.
ETA: The “conversation” continues. I get that no one wants to admit that their kid could end up being the perpetrator, but it is always a possibility. It is not only important to imagine these sorts of things as the victim’s family, but as the perp’s family as well.