Justice … does Justice have a color … a age … a job title? Martin Luther King once said, Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We have so often claimed that this kid or that kid “fell through the cracks” … the “cracks” of what? The cracks of society? The cracks in education? The cracks in family? By now, you probably have a pretty good idea where I am headed with this … or not.
On October 20, 2017, Jashaun Matthews and Jordan Wilson, both 15-years-old and a unnamed 13-year-old were 3 of the 5 people that beat a 56-year-old pizza delivery driver to the point that he was in a coma for 3 days and was in the hospital a little longer due to his injuries. This took place on Baltimore Avenue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Matthews and Wilson are both charged as adults and the 13-year-old went to Juvenile court.
On October 18, 2017, Kyle Anger 17-year-old, Alexander Miller and Trevor Gray both 15-years-old, Mark Sekelsky and Mikadyn Payne both 16-years-old were throwing rocks off an overpass in Genesee County Michigan when one of the rocks hit and killed a 32-year-old man that was in one of the passing vehicles. They have been arrested and charged as adults for this act. They are charged with 2nd degree murder and they were denied bond.
I could go on and on with stories just like these. Try Google searching: Teen shoots another teen in blah blah town … it will pull up several listings of such. My question is this … Do they know what they are doing is going to put them in prison for life? By the way, it will never be the death penalty because teens can’t get the death penalty. Another fact to keep in mind, a 13-year-old cannot be charged as an adult, they are sent to the juvenile courts while their friends that are only older by one year can be charged as adults and sent to prison for LIFE.
Something is wrong with our teens. Either they truly are “falling between the cracks” or we as adults have given up on them entirely too soon. If they have “fallen between the cracks” or we gave up on them too soon … have we taught them all they needed to know about the law before we cut the strings to the apron? Do they realize that the crimes they are committing is going to put them in prison for LIFE? Do they even understand what LIFE is? My heart is breaking tonight for the teens that are literally facing LIFE in prison and they can’t even tell you how it feels to stay a month in their rooms with no friends … no phones … no game systems.
Please don’t mistaken my broken heart as victim blaming … and I am not trying to say that these victims don’t deserve justice … because they do. That is just what I am saying … everyone deserves justice. The 8th Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the federal government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment for federal crimes. The Amendment states, “excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted”. Most of these teens have never had a job … as a matter of fact, most of them can’t get a job because companies can’t hire people under a certain age (I think in Georgia it is 15-years-old). Any bail or fines that we impose on them is already above what they can afford. Locking them up for lightyears … and that is what it feels like to them … is cruel and excessive.
I know not everyone agrees with me … dang, I wonder how much I actually agree with myself when thinking about all this. We have let our teens down. We gave them way too much responsibility way too soon and now they are in a lot of hot water for it. Who is the one that we should be shaming … is it the school system for not holding their interest and giving them a reason to want to go to school? Should be shaming the parents for being at their wits end and not knowing what to do or where to go to get help? Should we blame the police for not being more kind to our kids when they lock them up? Surely there is someone we can blame. I don’t want to blame anyone. I want to find a solution. Has anyone ever thought if we do find a solution for this problem … we might also find a solution the jail overcrowding because most of the adults that are in prison started their crimes as teens. I can’t help feeling that there is something that can be done.
One thing I do feel for sure is that we are punishing these teens with entirely too much. Most of them never knew what it was to be punished at home and now the prison is doing more to them than they have ever had done. I had to blog about this tonight because this has been keeping me up at night for the past couple of weeks. I want to know what it is that we can do to stop this problem and help these teens. Please join in a discussion and in the comments, let me know how you feel. What do you think about this? Have I got my heart in the wrong place? Should I feel more sympathy for the victims than the suspects? Let me know what you think.