Friday, March 21, 2008

Abso-frickin-lutely!

In this Reuters article, Matthew Bigg tries to pull at your heartstrings over "life-means-life" sentences in the US, which are used on minors in substitute for the death penalty. According to a study by the Equal Justice Initiative, 2,225 minors have been given such sentences.

This New York Times article says that there almost 1.6 million Americans incarcerated in the US, which if that is the case then those 2,225 minors sentenced to a "life-means-life" incarceration represent about .0000014% of the prison population. He uses this case to articulate how this is wrong:

"I SAW HER IN FLAMES"
The case of Ashley Jones, who was 14 when she killed, illustrates the seriousness of many crimes that result in for-life sentences.
One night in August 1999, Jones and her 16-year-old boyfriend, Geramie Hart, angered by her family's disapproval of their relationship, went to her home in Birmingham, Alabama. They set her grandfather on fire with lighter fluid, stabbed him and shot him dead. They also stabbed and shot dead Jones' aunt in her bedroom and set her grandmother on fire. Jones' 10-year-old sister, Mary, was asleep in bed but they dragged her to the kitchen to see the attack on her family. "I had to sit there and watch her (Ashley) torture my grandmother. I saw her in flames," said Mary Jones, recounting her ordeal in an interview in Alabaster, Alabama. "Geramie ... picked me up by my neck and pointed a gun at me and said: 'This is how you are going to die.' Ashley said: 'No, wait. I'll do her.'" They stabbed Mary Jones repeatedly, puncturing a lung, and drove off leaving her and her grandmother, whose injuries included burns, stab and gunshot wounds, to stagger outside.


Um, I would have found a better case to cite. I think both killers deserve to never see the light of day again. I don't care if they were teenagers or if they had a bad childhood, burning people alive should buy you a one way ticket to the needle, or in the case of minors such as these, a lifetime behind bars with no chance of assimilating back into the world.

EJI is actually trying to get Ashley Jones out of prison.
The Equal Justice Initiative has filed suits in six states challenging the life-without-parole sentences and has brought a case in federal court in northern Alabama over the Jones case, arguing it represents cruel and unusual punishment.
Hart is also serving the same sentence.

EJI is against the death penalty and against putting people in prison forever. Sorry, you can't have it both ways.

I am for the death penalty albeit in very narrow and rare circumstances and I have read somewhat on the arguments of those who oppose the death penalty and their arguments are compelling. I also feel that there are some people who just cannot make it in society and I feel these are those types of people.

Not all of those in prison are there for the right reasons, nor is every prisoner's sentence always justified, but there has to be a way to keep dangerous people out of society no matter their age or circumstance. If killing them really is morally wrong then we should lock them up inside of a teeny little box and forget they ever existed.

Do I feel that these types of sentences are justified? Read the title again.
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