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View Diary: Should 10 year old kids be handcuffed? What about 7? Or 6? (29 comments)

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  •  There you are! (0+ / 0-)

    I knew you'd be here soon enough.

    Making the exact argument I predicted, without so much as a creative variation.

    The argument that something done by a child is an "adult crime" just because it's something that adults also do is one of the most intellectually bankrupt arguments in the juvenile justice debate.

    I think that stealing from your brother is something that kids mostly do. The next time I have a 40-year old client who steals his brother's car, do you think we can adjudicate him in the juvenile system because he's committed a child's crime?

    People of all ages (with some exceptions on the low end) commit crimes of all types. A person is not transformed into an adult just because he committed a crime that, statistically, more adults commit. Adults will necessarily commit more of all crimes, since there are more adults, and adults have more freedom to be both out and about and not under the direct supervision of someone.

    When you equate the juvenile mind with the adult mind for the purposes of crime, you necessarily detract from the seriousness of adult crime. Because there is something very different about the decision to act by a person with a fully formed pre-frontal cortex when compared to a person whose brain is still forming.

    We seem to understand this in almost every other policy initiative. Kids can't vote, can't hold office, can't buy cigarettes, can't go into bars, can't consent to sex, can only enter into voidable contracts. Somehow, in those things, we recognize that the young brain is not as capable as the adult brain of processing information and weighing consequences. Yet when a child acts outside of the bounds of society, that child is suddenly transformed into something he is not. And as I said, when you place the same consequences on juvenile actions as adult actions, you undermine the seriousness of adult crimes, which are necessarily of a more complicated nature.

    We recognize the decreased moral culpability in other areas of criminal law - the death penalty is not allowed for crimes committed by juveniles, and we don't execute the mentally retarded, because we understand that their actions hold a level of culpability that's less than an adult's.

    So why is this any different? Yes, the action is reprehensible. Yes, it should be punished. But no, the act of committing a crime does not turn one into an adult. And no, this is not an "adult" crime. Saying so assumes that this sort of behavior is somehow normal for an adult. It's completely out of bounds of what's expected in society, which means it's not an adult or a child act. A crime like rape is a step outside the bounds of society, whether it's committed by a child or by an adult. We get to choose how to we deal with those two categories of offenders, though, and we MUST recognize the scientific research in making those decisions.

    "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

    by Grizzard on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 09:27:07 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  not gonna argue with you. Gonna let the (0+ / 0-)

      rest of the case unfold, as the Ohio AG is looking at further potential criminal cases -- maybe including the parents who helped / let this drunken orgy happen. Wanna suggest they're not culpable for at least being criminally negligent here?

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

      by BlackSheep1 on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 10:47:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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