31 comments
epitz33
epitz33

The story of Charles is incredibly sad.  At age 15, most kids do not fully understand the real life consequences and permanence of their actions.  To know that his intensions were so pure but his actions got out of hand is devastating.  Serving a lifetime in jail for committing a crime as a child is absolutely unacceptable in my books.  There was so much potential for him to learn from his mistake and live a life that may have made a difference in his society.  Instead his young life was thrown away without any remorse. 

 

-epits33

pmlarsonmiller
pmlarsonmiller like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 5 Like

When I went to Louisiana State Penitentiary with Nancy Heitzeg and my classmates, our tour-guide told us a little bit about minors serving time there. Some are there for a period of 15 months and are not required to do hard labor in the fields; however, if they do anything wrong, such as fail to make their beds in the morning, their sentence can be extended and they will be doing the same work as adult prisoners. Even those who are not serving life sentences can easily end up doing far more time than was originally sentenced. 

The prison environment of psychological and physical abuse and control is inhumane for any person, but to throw a child in? Children are vulnerable, malleable, hormonal, and are in a stage of life when they are supposed to be figuring out who they are. Unfortunately, they do not get an opportunity or a second chance to figure that out for themselves - they are told who they are instead; and in the eyes of the United States Criminal Justice System, they are criminals, now and forever.

I'm only hoping that this practice of sentencing juveniles to life without parole is ended after March 20th.  

McKenzieDaul
McKenzieDaul

 @pmlarsonmiller Exactly, children are not meant to be punished in this way, they are first trying to find their place in the world even with all odds against them! Some children get second chances but we know exactly who doesn't. It's not about right and wrong anymore its about who is involved and again who is being watched. Why is it that society feels this environment is helpful or protective? And to children? 

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @pmlarsonmiller I especially appreciate this sentence that you wrote, pmlarsonmiller:  "The prison environment of psychological and physical abuse and control is inhumane for any person, but to throw a child in?"

 

Exactly.  Thank you for putting it so plainly.

McKenzieDaul
McKenzieDaul like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 4 Like

Wow! The photo of the little boy walking to the prison doors. Extremely powerful! On another note, children are supposed to be our future. The job of those who are in charge is to teach and provide good lessons to children so when they get to the age of authority they can pass on the lessons they learned. When you take a look at this reality for many children (life without parole), their siblings, friends, other family members, picture a world that one should fear. Is that the lesson we should be teaching young children? Also, how are children supposed to know better when they don't know who to trust and what truly is right or wrong. Of course, the race, class, and gender factor into this all, meaning specific groups are chosen. As Dr. Heitzeg explained in class yesterday it's who is watched or followed that gets these types of sentences. Meaning children of color, children in poverty, overall children who live unfortunate lives the way it is because of the inequalities in everyday life. What do they have to look forward to? And instead of trying to encourage these children we push them out of schools and find every little way to punish or jail them. Sadly, life without parole for CHILDREN is just another part of this society that instead of teaching a lesson, proves the great inequalities and restriction of the basic human rights! Great article! 

 

 

pmlarsonmiller
pmlarsonmiller like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

 @McKenzieDaul I agree, children are supposedly the future - I think the question is who's children? This is yet another way the law is used to abuse, weaken, and control communities of color and the poor. You don't see any rich white guy's kid in prison for life. 

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @McKenzieDaul thanks McKenzie -- appreciate your comments.

 

Yes yes yes -- children are supposed to be the future

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

 @McKenzieDaul Thanks for being here, McKenzie. 

 

You're so right...it is the selective following, the selective following, the profiling, that determines who will wind up in the prisons.  And all of it distorted by race and class - and also by sexuality and gender/gender identiy.

 

How cruel that a society would triage its children, sending so many to prison so needlessly.

PatriciaLevesque
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"One might also argue that our status as a “civilized” nation..."

 

It is largely due to JLWOP that for some we have already largely forfeited any claim to being civilized.  Less than a month ago I listened to a BBC broadcast on exactly this practice.  The overall opinion of Mr Damon and his guests was one of disgust for the American courts for the practice.  (It's a daily podcast, The BBC World Update with Dan Damon)

 

"we should most  fear those who would "protect" us"

 

Sad but true, most Americans do not understand that we have an illusion of freedom in the country, these children had no idea or comprehension of what was going on.  They did as their legal counsel (white? court appointed? /sigh) told them to do.  

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

 @PatriciaLevesque Love the BBC World Update, and thanks for noting the Dan Damon commentary.

 

So much oppression and repression occurs at the intersection of "protection," "safety," and "security."  Code words for racism, state violence, a surveillance society, the military industrial complex and the prison industrial complex.

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

 @PatriciaLevesque And, that's a shame.  Because "safety" and "security" and "protection" can be framed within an unshakable framework of racial, gender, sexual, and class justice.

PatriciaLevesque
PatriciaLevesque like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

 @KayWhitlock raised as a "Navy brat" I truly believed in the American "justice for all".  It has been a heartbreaking education to learn the truth of the school to prison pipeline and the prison industrial complex.

 

What has not changed is my belief that "justice for all" is achievable.  Education and awareness are vital,  but it is a little overwhelming.

Domino14
Domino14 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

" Christi plead guilty under threat of the death penalty, as so many JLWOP cases have, and as a result, cannot appeal her conviction."

 

what??  there are no appeals with guilty pleas no matter what??

 

that is just  wrong.. so wrong..   this is ALL so wrong...

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

A perfect storm of racism, "get tough," and the reprehensible "youth superpredator" myth.  If there is such a thing as societal karma - and I believe there is - this is going to be a big part of ours. 

 

Praying for Kennedy's better angels to come forth, but I have such a grim view of this Supreme Court.  If anyone thinks that USSC is not one of the huge issues embedded in the upcoming presidential election, think again.

 

Thank you, Nancy.  Searing.

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

 @KayWhitlock A perfect storm indeed Kay -- just so ugly

 

And as you know -- i share your view of SCOTUS .. just look at what has happened since 2004..

RubySJones
RubySJones like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 4 Like

You read this stuff and it just makes you want to curl up in a ball because of the feelings of helplessness. Thanks be to people like you and RG who fight so hard every day to try and change it. It is unbelievable that this country would be one of two that has not abolished this barbaric practice. 

 

The tragic thing is that so many of the gun crimes committed in the five boroughs of New York are committed by the very young. No parental supervision, no care, nothing done to

counsel and keep them away from lethal weapons and then they get shunted off to some horrible prison for life. I always wonder where the adults who are supposed to be responsible for them are. I am talking 12-16 year old kids. How do they get these weapons? Recently, a fifteen-year old mistakenly shot an eight-year old who was buying chips in a store. The shooter was aiming at a 15-year old.

 

Why is this not a major campaign issue?

 

Thank you, Nancy. One inch at a time.

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 4 Like

 @RubySJones hey, Ruby, good to see you.  We must transform that sense of helplessness - and I know it well - into fierce determination and relentless persistence to change things. 

 

Kids as young as 11 years old being sentenced to life without parole.  Good God. Their brains haven't even fully developed. 

 

Why not a major campaign issue?  It will be as criminalization narratives run amok, all aimed at President Obama and then, secondarily, at other Democrats.

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 4 Like

 @KayWhitlock  @RubySJones i just can't get over Miranda waivers being accepted even though the warning itself had vocabulary beyond the comprehension of these youthful suspects

 

Who are we????????????

KayWhitlock
KayWhitlock like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 4 Like

 @nancy a heitzeg  @RubySJones I have complicated thoughts about who we are/have become.  But for now, I will simply say that playing to mythic and racist criminal archetypes that stir unconscious fear and dread is much more important to most politicians than simple justice and humanity.  We excuse every abuse of civil and human rights with the lofty language of safety and security.

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  1. […] for brutalizing children, especially if they are Black. It should be clear too that any number of Supreme Court rulings, any number of reports by the U.S. Department of Justice, any number of efforts towards so-called […]