Lock them up and throw away the key? Up for a heavy discussion?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Star*, Nov 9, 2009.

  1. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    I thought this was thought provoking and could potentially pertain to any of our kids. Maybe it would be interesting to turn this one into a poll?

    Just wondered if any of you had been following any of the life in prison for juveniles cases?
  2. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I agree with the statement in the article that says we can't really tell if they have overcome their "youthful disabilities" until they are older. in my humble opinion the reality is that there are children who are dangerous and will remain dangerous but we can't tell which ones they are until all of them have been offered intensive years of therapy.
  3. Some of them are convicted for other things than murder. They didn't understand the strikes laws before it hit them hard. We have all witnessed how relatives has turned problematic teenager years into a better adult life. I just have to think of my brother. Had there been strikes back then and had he been caught everytime, he would be in jail for life. At some point he matured and he did choose to live at a very remote place so most of the temptations would be out of reach.

    In fact he was the one I turned to when my daughter had a rough time.

    I sometime cry when I see a 10 year old in shackles as it was done in Florida when the homeless man was assaulted. I believe that those case where kids that young hang out on the street should have been taken care of sooner before people are hurt.

    I watched a show about some boys being sent to Kenya. While the boys improved it was too expensive and too dangerous considering the political situation abroad. However, they learned something from this project and today the organization behind the project is running local boarding schools where the kids in risk live in a structured environment just streets away from their home.

    Sometime the home environment can be so damaged that the teenagers need to be away while the parents are treated. I hope that the supreme court allows youths who are serving life without parole for other things than murder a chance to be granted parole when they have shown a longer period of continued improvement.

    We have to accept that some teenagers should wear a label on their forehead saying "Closed down due to rebuilding".
  4. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    I do believe some children are so badly "broken" that they cannot be rehabilitated. The problem is: who makes that decision and how is it made?
  5. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I think we have lost several generations with our blood lust for retaliation. We allowed drugs into our families, and told people they would be safe if we could build and fill the jails. We stopped paying school taxes, and we stopped teaching birth control, and we stopped providing medical and mental health care. We ended up with a lot of poor uneducated children with no way to earn a living, hooked on and selling drugs, raising more children into the same circumstances.

    I also think that some kids are terribly attracted to the dangerousness of these people's lives, and that they fall into the same hole the others are in.

    I agree with Going North. Some of these children and adults and their families may be lost to us forever. It's what we bought and paid for. So long as we keep blaming segments of society and pretending that they are not worth as much as the rest of us, it will keep happening.
  6. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I believe that a life sentence should be an option, but not without possibility for parole for juvenile offenders. We know that the human brain continues to develop until about the age of 25. So in my opinion, there is still hope until that time that some juvenile offenders can be helped. Some will never be helped. But some will. And in my opinion, until the penal system addresses the mental health side of the problem -- and I mean REALLY treats the problem aggressively and as thoroughly as possible, NONE of the offenders has any hope of rehabilitation.

    And you can't know who will be "saved" and who can't be until you get them into some type of treatment program within the system. That's why they need to have that shot at parole -- because if they are "fixable" to a certain degree, they need to be given a second chance. I mean, how many of these offenders end up in situations because of circumstances beyond their control? Like being born into poverty, crime-infested neighborhoods, family history of mental illness, abuse, etc. How does a kid born into a no-win situation escape the vortex of violence, crime, insanity, etc. that draws them in? If we can help them, we are obligated to do so until it's determined that they can't be helped.

    I don't believe the death penalty should be an option for minors.
  7. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    We all know from experience that many, if not most, juveniles really cannot comprehend the consequences of their actions. "It seemed like a good idea at the time" seems to rule their lives. From that perspective alone, I think a sentence of life in prison, with or without parole, seems harsh.

    For violent crimes, however, I think it becomes a trickier issue. How many violent juveniles are budding sociopaths, who are only likely to escalate? How many are victims of circumstance and have a chance of being rehabilitated?

    I don't think there is a simple answer. You've got to take individuals on a case by case basis. A budding sociopath is safer behind bars, for a long, long time. Those cases should probably be tried as adults, anyway.

    I really think that if a juvenile is tried as a juvenile, and doesn't appear to have sociopathic tendencies, life in prison without possibility of parole does lean towards "cruel and unsuual." It's effectively the death penalty, but they're not being put to death in any quick and humane way. It's death by prison.
  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I agree that if you don't lay the groundwork as parents when they're young, (and with the lack of support in our society for people in trouble over generations I'm afraid that this happens A LOT) the chance that a child will have sociopathic tendencies is much greater.
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think there is a huge difference in minor trouble with the law and violent behavior that would lead to life imprisonment. I dont even think that breaking and entering should carry a life sentence. Absurd. The jails are needed much more badly for the violent offenders like murderers, rapists and child predators. I believe we can rehabilitate most of the other law breakers. Lets be inventive. Require mental health treatment and education. Of course, that means it has to be available...gosh darn it!
  10. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I agree, Janet. It just kills me that Society seems to be okay with throwing away come people, and then has the audacity to want to lock them up and throw away the key because they've too far gone. Why don't we start sooner? Would it kill people to fund "Head Start" or After School Care instead of prisons? Investing in a child lasts a lifetime.
  11. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I know that the State of Florida has 77 kids sentenced to life in prison with-o the possibility of parole. The youngest one was sentenced at the age of 13 for raping an elderly woman. Florida evidently decided to deal harshly with the juvenile offenders following an outbreak of juvie gangs who attacked tourists from out of the country and impacted the influx of visitors to our tourism state. Florida also has (I believe) the largest number of youthful "felons for life" based on non-violent and non=repetitive crimes. Florida, coincidentally ??, was rated in the bottom five of all states
    in the efforts to help children. All ties together into a very ugly package. DDD
  12. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I see this in my work all the time. After 23 years with the Dept. of Correction, trust me on this, I've seen it all! A few have genuine, serious mental health issues and they are cared for, but most are NOT mentally ill. We have over 1,500 inmates, all convicted of serious felonies, and believe it or not, you can almost always tell which ones were "raised right" and which ones weren't! We have a few guys with life sentences who, if they were released, I wouldn't care if they moved in next door to me! These are guys who came from good families with caring parents who loved them and did all they could but they got involved with the wrong people, maybe had problems with alcohol or drug addiction, and years ago when they were very young they did something incredibly stupid and now they're doing a life sentence. Now twenty years later many times they're not even that same person anymore who did something stupid when they were 19 or 20 and could be law abiding, responsible, contributing members of society, a threat to no one, but they will spend the rest of their life there and die in prison. But then you have all the 'others' who should never again be allowed to be outside of a prison, the ones who are exactly where they belong. The ones who were raised like junk yard dogs, the gang members, the ones who have never done an honest days work and have absolutely no regard for human life. There's a lot more of them in this category than the other.

    In many ways I think society in general has broken down to such a degree that it's going to be almost impossible to 'fix'. There's a whole segment of society, millions and millions of kids, who are growing up in an atmosphere of abuse, drugs and violence and to them, this is 'normal'. It's all they know. They become parents at 15, grandparents at 30, great grandparents at 45, etc. There is no work ethic and welfare is a way of life. The 'thug life' is embraced and there are no positive role models. But they still have that sense of entitlement, still want that 'bling', and you get it any way you can. Lots of kids have no fathers, or don't even know who their fathers are, or most of the male family members are already in prison and this is accepted as 'normal'. This is what they grow up with, this is all they have known their whole life, so how do you 'fix' that? You'd have to start almost from infancy!

    They have to submit an application with a photo, even for children, to get on an inmate's visiting list. And we've seen people send in photos of 2 and 3 year olds throwing gang signs in their pictures! Nice, huh!

    And this is how it begins ... I guarantee you, in another ten or eleven years, this kid will be with us!

    From this mornings Nashville Tennessean:

    8-year-old accused of stabbing cop

    Metro police said students and staff at Dupont-Hadley Middle School told Officer Randy Fowler that the boy was kicking a dog in the street just off school property.

    The boy ran away when he saw Fowler approaching despite the officer's commands for him to stop, police said.

    Fowler caught up to the boy outside his home, arrested and handcuffed him. Police said Fowler tried to explain what happened to the boy's mother, Rachel Swafford, 31, but Swafford grabbed her son, pushed the boy inside and began fighting with Fowler, telling the officer that her son wasn't going to be arrested.

    During the scuffle, the boy slipped out of the handcuffs, came back outside and began stabbing Fowler in the leg with a pen. Mother and son were both arrested.

    The boy has been charged with animal cruelty, loitering during school hours, aggravated assault and resisting arrest.

    Swafford has been charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest. Fowler was treated at a local hospital and later released, police said.
  13. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Last week, a 4 year old boy from a small town west of here was buried, after being raped and killed by a 14 year old boy, who then hid the little one's body in his mother's dryer. Apparently the 14 year old's father was also a molester, but the parents separated when he was 2. Will this young man be able to overcome this and become a productive member of society, or will his very early life imprint him forever, assuming he was molested? I don't have an answer, but my heart aches for the families involved.
  14. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Thank you all for your comments. I think there have been a great deal of knowledge given here both from Mothers who have raised difficult children, and from literally inside our prison system like our own Donna.

    Then comment about getting kids in Head Start programs makes tons of sense and I wanted to add to support your local DARE programs as well. They are grossly underfunded/understaffed.

    I'm not sure what the answer is to these kids. I do know that the services or rather "lack of services" that Dude received while he was in Department of Juvenile Justice was a literal joke. Dude himself told me that Department of Juvenile Justice was like a big daycare for goof-offs. The only thing that was decent was the school. The staff was not adequate, nor were they adequately trained to handle any problems. But then again - I actually saw the training manual for a local Residential Treatment Center (RTC) staff member and it's a learn-as-you-go process. OMG - are you KIDDING? So this is what we're giving our problem kids? And then there is mental health and well - that was the 23 year old counselor who was at best - ridiculous and straight out of college. Are you kidding me? (remember the one that said "We can go look at Christmas lights if you want to, I really wanted to be a doctor but I flunked out of medication school and was easy?")

    Just like the fosters - NO ONE IS WATCHDOG to any of these people.

    So just put them in jail - where they aren't a problem.....and throw away the key. Generation after generation.....they seem to be okay with being what a homeless man told me yesterday was the correct term for those who don't want an honest life, have never worked an honest days labor for an honest days wage, would rather sell drugs and teach their kids to do the same, and cheat welfare - the term used here is - Won't come up, okay with being low.

    Even among the homeless - there's a term for it. What a shame.

    As far as the boy who raped the grandmother? I do not think he deserves to ever be allowed out of jail. FYI. I don't think any violent sex-offender deserves to be allowed out of jail.