Mass. SJC bars no-parole life terms for youths:
Right before the holidays the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that life without parole for minors is unconstitutional. Not just mandatory LWOP but LWOP in general. Once again the argument of a teen’s brain not being fully developed was used as the reasoning behind the decision.
“Simply put, because the brain of a juvenile is not fully developed, either structurally or functionally, by the age of eighteen, a judge cannot find with confidence that a particular offender, at that point in time, is irretrievably depraved,” the court wrote. “Therefore, it follows that the judge cannot ascertain, with any reasonable degree of certainty, whether imposition of this most severe punishment is warranted.”
So what does this mean? It means a cold-blooded killer like John Odgren could one day be free. If you’ll recall Odgren was sentenced to life without parole after stabbing James Alenson to death at the age of 16 in a bathroom at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School. Odgren had an unhealthy obsession with knives and crime scene forensics and often bragged to classmates that he could commit the perfect crime. He was recorded in prison conversations with his parents admitting that it should only be manslaughter since he didn’t know his victim.
Then there’s 14-year-old Philip Chism of Danvers High School who is accused of not only slitting the throat of his teacher, Colleen Ritzer, but also allegedly raping her with a tree branch.
Of course the brains of teenagers are not fully developed. That doesn’t mean that they don’t know the difference between right and wrong. That doesn’t mean that they don’t know the difference between life and death. That doesn’t mean that they don’t know that murder is wrong. If the brains of teens are so undeveloped that this isn’t common knowledge then they shouldn’t be allowed on the streets. The reality is that these teens have an overinflated sense of self-worth and feel that the world owes them something and with this ruling the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court just enforces that misguided notion.
Before I die I’m afraid we’ll see a society where no one is held responsible for their actions anymore.
Kip Kinkel uses landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling to challenge sentence:
Once again Kip Kinkel is back in the news for appealing his sentence. Kinkel was sentenced to 115 years for the 1998 shooting and killing of his parents and killing two at Thurston High School in Oregon. He’s previously tried to have his sentence overturned by claiming both insanity and improper counsel. Now he’s trying to use a Supreme Court ruling to his favor.
Last year the US Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences without parole for minors is unconstitutional. Kinkel was 15 at the time of his murder spree. I don’t agree with the Supreme Court’s ruling however while they said that mandatory LWOP for minors was unconstitutional they also said that minors could still be sentenced to LWOP for murder as long as the sentence wasn’t a mandatory one.
Kinkel accepted a plea deal of 25 years for the murders however the judge at the time tacked on 40 moths a piece on attempted murder charges for each person he wounded in is spree. There were 26 wounded. That jacked up his sentence to where it is today. His sentence was not a mandatory sentence.
If there are any fancy lawyerin’ types out there wouldn’t the Supreme Court just review the facts then refuse to rule on this?
Personally I don’t see this succeeding even in our ‘no personal responsibility’ society of today.
UPDATE 5/27/2013: Appeal denied for being 8 years past the appeal deadline. See you in 2113 jackass.
Court: No automatic life without parole for kids:
While everyone this week was flapping their gums about the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare there was another Supreme Court ruling that didn’t get nearly as much attention.
This past week the Supreme Court ruled that states can not impose automatic sentences of life without parole to juvenile offenders. You would think that I would be pissed about this but I’m not. I mean I’m disappointed but not pissed. This ruling means that states can’t set automatic life sentences without parole for certain crimes that teens commit. However juveniles can still be sentenced to LWOP it’s just that the sentence has to be handed down by a judge or jury.
What this really means is that we’re going to see a lot of appeals for teens that had been automatically sentenced to LWOP. I(‘m sure we’ll start seeing some familiar names start popping up in the not so distant future.
While I’m not overly upset about this ruling since juvenile killers can still be sentenced to LWOP it is a step in the wrong direction. Eventually I’m sure it will be ruled that LWOP for teens is cruel and unusual and we’ll go back to the days where juvenile killers did no time due to their age.
If I remember correctly the concept of trying teens as adults sprung up from the gangs of California who would use kids as triggermen because they would end up doing little to no time. The funny thing is it’s the white kids who are getting these rulings overturned. People see kids like John Odgren or Eric Hainstock and think how sad it is for them to be in prison for life but if it was some gangbanger who is a black kid they wouldn’t bat an eyelash about it. Me? I say put them all away for life regardless of color if their crime merits it.
We’re sliding into hell as a society, we need less criminal coddling and more hard time.
Keep life without parole, let killers repent in prison:
I just wanted to share this article with you from San Fransisco columnist Debra J. Saunders.
In it she says that if the death penalty is abolished then the next target from criminal rights groups would be the abolition of life sentences without parole.
As a matter of fact she says that some groups are already calling for an end to LWOP.
Some people won’t be happy until prisons are empty. A nice pipe dream but in reality things just don’t work that way.