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  • Morning Bell: Adult Time for Adult Crimes

    This fall the Supreme Court will hear two cases from Florida challenging a state’s ability to sentence violent juvenile offenders to life without the possibility of parole. Long unquestioned, life without parole for the very worst juvenile offenders only recently came under fire after Justice Anthony M. Kennedy reasoned in the majority opinion in Roper v Simmons that since teenagers are susceptible to negative influences, including peer pressure, capital punishment violated their 8th Amendment rights. Leftist activists have seized on this language, and are mounting a coordinated misinformation campaign to expand Roper’s juvenile death penalty ban to life without parole sentences.

    At the heart of this campaign are self-published “studies” containing highly questionable assertions and gross misrepresentation of facts. For example, the Equal Justice Initiative’s 2007 report spotlights the case of Ashley Jones as a case of injustice that cries out for reform. This is how EJI describes the facts of Jones’s case: “At 14, Ashley tried to escape the violence and abuse by running away with an older boyfriend who shot and killed her grandfather and aunt. Her grandmother and sister who were injured during the offense, want Ashley to come home.” Those are the “facts” according to leftist activists. Now here is just a portion of the judge’s actual finding of facts in the case (warning this is not for the faint of heart):

    When Ashley realized her aunt was still breathing, she hit her in the head with a heater, stabbed her in the chest and attempted to set her room on fire. … As ten-year old Mary Jones [Ashley’s sister] attempted to run, Ashley grabbed her and began hitting her. [Ashley’s boyfriend] put the gun in young Mary’s face and told her that that was how she would die. Ashley intervened and said, “No, let me do it,” and proceeded to stab her little sister fourteen times.

    The whole story gets much, much worse. And Ashley Jones is just the tip of the left’s misinformation iceberg. In 2007 and again in 2009, the left tried to outlaw juvenile life without parole in the California legislature. Both bills’ official analyses claimed that “59% of youth sentenced to LWOP are first-time offenders” and that “45% of the youth sentenced to life in prison did not perform the murder they were convicted of.” Neither bill provides any sources for or explanation of these assertions. The bills also state that “70% of the youth acted under the influence of adults” and that, “in 56% of these cases, the youth received a higher sentence than the adults.”

    Again there is no factual basis for these numbers. The bill further claims that “[t]he U.S. is the only country in the world that sentences kids to life without parole.” This is simply false. As even Amnesty International and Human Rights First acknowledge, at least 11 other countries allow life without parole for juvenile offenders.

    To combat the left’s false and misleading campaign, Heritage Foundation legal scholars Charles Stimson and Andrew Grossman have published a 90 page report (pdf) providing reliable facts and analysis, as well as detailed case studies, all with full citations to primary sources. Stimson and Grossman write:

    It is our hope that judges and legislators will approach the issue of life without parole for juvenile offenders with both an open mind and skepticism about much of what has been written on the topic, probing and challenging the facts and propositions put to them to ensure that they are relying on the most accurate facts and strongest arguments.

    Quick Hits:

    • Just five years after Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) successfully pressed the Massachusetts legislature to change the law to deny then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R) the ability to appoint a successor should Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) win the presidency, Kennedy is now pressing the Massachusetts legislature to change the law again this time to give Gov. Deval Patrick (D) the power to appoint his successor.
    • According to New Hampshire office of economic stimulus director Bud Fitch, despite President Barack Obama’s promise that the stimulus would create 16,000 jobs for New Hampshire, Obama’s stimulus has actually saved only 796 jobs, 700 of which are government jobs.
    • According to Gallup, 68% of Americans believe their federal income taxes will be higher by the time Barack Obama’s first term as president ends, including 35% who say their taxes will be “a lot higher.”
    • According to a new Washington Post poll, public confidence in President Obama’s leadership has declined sharply over the summer with only 49% now expressing confidence that Obama will make the right decisions for the country, down from 60% at the 100-day mark.
    • The families of many of the 270 people who died in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing are calling the release of Abdel Baset Ali Megrahi an “insult.”
    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    26 Responses to Morning Bell: Adult Time for Adult Crimes

    1. Ken says:

      To hell with capital punishment…hard labor is my idea of deterrent…capital punishment…abortion…we are not God nor should we pretend to be. Shovel rocks from point A to point B, lunch….Shovel back, dinner. If you starve to death, it's your own damn fault. If you should visit some of our prisons, you would see country clubs. They may not be country clubs that you would like, but to many of the prisoners it's better than what they're used to. It's the ultimate government program to many. In this case, life in prison although severe is justified solely on the premise that we as law abiding citizens need not have to concern ourselves with dangerous people no matter what hand the child was dealt. Life is not always fair nor will it ever be. Judges must stop believing they are gods.

    2. Jim McHale says:

      Good article, but I would like to see the list of the 11 other countries who allow this form of punishment (usually there are hyperlinks to everything, but not this particular case).

    3. leslie dunn says:

      I am just wondering, why hasn't anyone addressed the issue of using liquid glass to burn out the engine of cash for clunkers cars? What is it doing to the atmosphere that the libs want us to pay so much attention to? A huge amount of smoke is going up into the atmosphere every time they destroy a perfectly good car, a car that could be used by someone (and there are a LOT of people who have no transportation) who is need of a way to get to work! It's sinful to waste those cars.

      (probably can't use the word sinful) I am scared for our country. Scared for our future. I feel like I am in the twilight zone.

    4. Ozzy6900, CT says:

      Fourteen is old enough to know that it is wrong to commit murder and the problem with Capital Punishment is it is not being performed! I never have, nor will I ever condone allowing a murder to live while his/her victims were robbed of life! I say send them to God for judgment! I'm sorry but you cannot convince me to let a murder live – no way – no how!

      I also agree that prisons are a joke. Manual, servile labor is the only way to go. A five by five cell with a bed, sink and toilet is all you should have. Rise with the sun, eat, go to work, lunch, go to work, dinner, clean up, bed. Meals are enough to sustain life – that's it! Prisoner's rights? You lost those when you violated your victim's rights, buddy! If you start a fight, the guards shoot and that's all there is to that! If I had my way, prison would be a place you would FEAR to be in. Some would call me inhumane! Maybe, but I have little use for the scum that is in our prisons or that run around our streets today.

      But to make changes to this present system it would take putting the Supreme Court up against a wall and telling them in no uncertain terms that they are full of defecation and if they can't do their jobs as per the Constitution, retire!

    5. Ron Thompson says:

      how about a deterent, by making it so that the families of the criminal pays for the individuals stay in prison. if someone is in for life, or death row. the state would bill the family for food, cloths, laundry and tv connection. If a family doesn't pay, food is cut to twice a day on a minium diet, tv is turned off. Laundry is changed to every two week. There are many more thought. The biggest one is; why are taxpayer punished and forced to support someone for life?

    6. Joan Sarasota FL. says:

      This is typical Kennedy behavior. He got through life because everyone bent the rules for him. Now as he is leaving he still demands that rules be changed. When he gets where he is going he will have a lot to atone for. Everyone has to pay the piper at some point his is coming.

    7. Mad-andy, Missouri says:

      Murder is murder. It might help our system to be oriented more toward "an eye for an eye"

      If we are deciding that a criminal has no chance to be rehabilitated, why allow them to sit in a cell with three squares and a tv for the rest of their life?

      Also, If the crime is so egregious that it merits capitol punishment, then those cases should be expedited though the system.

      We should not be in the business of warehousing criminals

      Andrew Hood is on facebook

    8. pascual.munoz says:

      wow what a horrable shame about this young girl yet she did with out a doubt commit this haynous crime and the law has its punishment she with much hate did much harm may god have mercy .

    9. Dennis Johnson Ca. says:

      If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. Speaking of crime, I hold all persons in congress guilty of not defending the Constitution, that they swore they would do when elected. Not one congressman has demanded to see Obama's birth cetificate.

    10. Erik the Red, New Yo says:

      So, if this passes, I guess instead of kids waiting outside a convenience store with twenty bucks and handing it to an adult for the purchase of beer or cigarettes, an adult will now stand outside their ex girlfriend or boyfriend's house with a hundred bucks and hand it to a kid along with a pistol to do their dirty work for them. If you think that's far fetched, think again.

    11. Ed Fresquez says:

      The Kennety request to change the law to allow the Governor of Massachuette to appoint his succesor is very typical. But that is the attitude of the Democratic party. Everything should be to their advantage, little do they realize, that times are changing. We the people have seen enough of their greedy attitude.

    12. Jerry S. Dickinson, says:

      Capitol Punishment when administered has a immeasureable advantage over all other forms of punishment. Recidivism is ZERO. We no longer have to rewards this monster with food, lodging, medical, water or supervision.The only downside to Cap. punishment is it is not used often enough. Rather than scale back on it's application I suggest we expand it's use to include child predators, rapists, pedophile priests and any other crime which brings about catastrophic change, trauma or affect in a victims life.

      What confuses me is Liberals are fighting to remove Cap. punishment as an option to bring justice to victims. At the same time they are fighting constantly to liberalize the abortion laws so anyone can have one, for free. Further, there are reports concerning wording in Obamas Health care pkg. about "rationed care". Presumably, the aged and infirm as well as the "unestablished" young would be the last to receive health care. Eugenics basically.

      How does one rsconcile that with allowing, convicted in a court of law by their peers, violent offenders to live and receive full life benefits?

    13. ella,n.c. says:

      14 is old enough to know better. She was mean to do things so violent,espeically to her little sister.She should of left if she was abused.

    14. Patriot Cat says:

      Mr. Johnson, I agree with you. I do not understand the reason that our representatives on both sides of the aisle in both Parties have not shouted down long and hard over the appointment of criminals as the President's czars, Secretaries of whatever, the list goes on and on…and no one…no one starts an investigation. No one shouts and stirs up the people. I have never been so frustrated in my life. I found out last night that Obama had this "Death Panel" that Bush took out put back into the military handbook…and it's so explicit and disgusting telling military doctors to tell our Vets how to kill themselves…what options are out there. I am sooooooo angry and disgusted with both parties that I have foresworn not to give to anybody's campaign unless they denounce Obama to his face. I beleive that Pelosi and Frank and Reid all have to resign their posts and that a prison cell is probably the proper place for many of Secretaries he has appointed along with the czars. Imagine our President had someone make a telephone call and ask a CEO of a private company to resign!! I have never understood how that was allowed. Right then and there, the hue and cry in the Halls of Congress should have shaken the Earth! There is more wrong than just this administration…there seems to be collusion throughout the whole place.

    15. Lynn B. DeSpain says:

      I believe with all of my heart and soul, that there are certain individuals who are incapable of living amoung us, in or out of prison. The only solution is death, preferably lethal injection. The human race's way of saying,"Sorry, but you can't live here anymore."

      Hozro

    16. Joe, Rhode Island says:

      Kennedy is the head of a dysfunctional, drug abused family and should have spent part of his life in prison for manslaughter and it is amazing how he is revered in the US Senate.

      It will be another travesty if he is allowed to change the law again, in his favor.

      Ted Kennedy represents what is wrong with American politics.

    17. Mike Sheahen, Hickor says:

      In such an increasingly both officially and unofficially immoral and unethical Orwellian "Oldspeak/Newspeak", "Doublethink/Doublespeak", "Politically Correct/Politically Incorrect" society as we find ourselves in, in America today, where blatant and even broadcasted acts of B&E (Breaking and Entering) and theft and illegal occupation of residential real property (house stealing), and various other violations against morals, ethics, and the law are all declared (and portrayed and reported by the media and others) as if they are all "acts for social justice, etc, etc, etc", we should not be surprised at such immoral, unethical, and illegal activity and misbehavior.

      Both in fact and indeed these things are the historically repeated symptoms of such social break-down, which historically always has been, is, and always will be made an excuse for tyranny, as in what happened to Rome, that which followed the American-inspired but grotesquely mutated French Revolution, the government elitist and statist (Leftist) hijacked Russian Revolution, and the government elitist and statist (Leftist) Obama-nation which we are now faced with at the hands of Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and their willing Comrade accomplices in so-called "public office", academia, Hollywood, the media, and elsewhere.

      Yes, "We, the People of the United States", as declared in our Constitution (which was indeed written to free people and limit government instead of free government and limit people), were once a nation of people founded and protected by that rule of law.

      However, as even history always has, does, and will prove happens when the rule of law becomes the exception and exceptions to it become the rule, that is evidently now "Politically Incorrect", in true Orwellian fashion, for which we are and shall increasingly suffer the obvious consequences, even while some deny the consequences as such and insist we all jump off that government elitist and statist (Leftist) cliff to our doom as individuals and as a nation.

      So what must we, the people, do now?

      The answer to that should also be obvious.

      So the only question is: Will we do so now?

    18. Kelly, Chappaqua, NY says:

      Marriage is being attacked with a redefinition, and now childhood is being redefined. Now, a child who commits a crime is suddenly an adult? Where are the parents? (I wonder what would happen if parents had to do jail time for their children's crimes? Seems to me that parents would be much more watchful of their children then.) And what would be the age limit? What about a five-year-old who commits a crime? Why not just eliminate the word "child" from the dictionary? Oh, yes, and we can do without the word "parents", too.

    19. Fr. Joe, Hampshire, says:

      Good government has a resposibility to protect its citizens from evil. This means locking up criminals and never letting the violent ones have another opportunity to kill. However, as revolting as these crimes are including those of minors, how does killing them improve society? These young people chose to do evil, there is no victimazation excuse. But most come from abusive backgrounds when most of us were blessed with decent parents. While we may be momentarily gratified when they are murdered for their horrific crimes, does it really help anyone when they are murdered by the state?

      I'm a little disappointed in this article and your promotion of the death penalty, Heritage. You do great research, do you have any documented evidence that the death penalty protects and improves society? I support everything else you stand for but if life is sacred in the womb even if no one loves the child, then it is sacred in prison even if no one loves the criminal. Let's be consistent if we want to win the argument.

    20. Wallyblu, Zion, IL says:

      The libersls have an excuse for every criminal behavior.

    21. Cre8RoyalPalm - Mali says:

      Get this on the books before Sotomayor gets into office! With so many criminal gangs active in the US, it seems that 'children's crime's' did not hold the same punishments for incarceration as 'adult crime's' of the same nature or degree. Now, instead of getting 6 years for murder, with half of that sentence on parole, the minor person can think two times before being 'forced' or coerced into a crime; murder as a 'for instance'. It is time for criminal justification and jurisprudence, people!

    22. Bobbie Jay says:

      A child, by moral teaching, can be brought up to be respectful and courteous, etc, and in a loving atmosphere. Today, kids look to be victimized, no matter what their upbringing, or actions and courtesy of the government, as the government appeases to any complaint to further keep children WEAK and DANGEROUS, instead of adequate discipline necessary.

      Government, whether police or whoever, without any facts, will insist the parents may not know they didn't bring their child up right, as there is no respect for parental upbringing. This is just to further government control and indoctrination to a radical level. Hand em over to government, they know how to bring up!

      A 14 year old that lived with respect of human life will only change when there are outside influences.

      Obviously killing was on the mind of this 14 year old, Old enough to carry it out, so her punishment should be her death in prison for the safety of society.

      If this country still values human life, those that end another's intentionally, should be put away for life at any age.

    23. Dennsi A. Social Cir says:

      I think it is high time that all people in this country take responsibility for their actions. A 14 year old knows the difference between right and wrong. This mess is just another attempt by the liberal left in this country to make excuses for the wrongs that people do. It is either the way they were raised, family falls apart, the neighborhood,or just any excuse that can be found.Some people can not be helped in any form, they do not want help.

      I know that life will put a burden on the taxpayer, but how much more will the burden be when a police officer has to shoot one of these kids after they have killed someone again. The all will say it was just atrigger ahppy cop, he should have done different. THE COURTS SHOULD HAVE DONE WHAT WAS NEEDED THE FIRST TIME, AND A COP WOULD NOT HAVE HAD TO KILL INORDER TO SAVE HIS OR HER LIFE, OR THE LIFE OF ANOTHER PERSON.

    24. Jim@Redding,CA says:

      How can any sensible, reasoning person in

      this day and age deny the active, ongoing

      influence of evil in every aspect of life?

      The sad fact is, we've become so used to it that many of us don't even recognize it

      when it is right in our faces. Likewise,

      since it has become "fashionable" to deny

      the need for us to seek God's help to get

      us out of the current mess in which we find ourselves, we find ourselves over-

      whelmed by these extreme circumstances and

      act like we don't know what to do about it

      all.

      Contrary to popular belief, these United

      States actually were founded on Christian

      biblical values by the first settlers who

      fled oppressive unacceptable pressure put

      upon them by the government in England.

      In fact, those folks actually gathered to-

      gether for prayer and Godly direction many

      times each day as they relied upon Him and

      His word to guide their lives as they came

      to settle and tame this once wild land in

      which we live.

      We have allowed liberal idealogy to infl-

      uence our lives to the point where we act-

      ually believe it's OK to murder over 50

      million human beings by abortion, allow

      homosexuality to be some sort of "socially

      acceptable" behavior, and make it a crime

      to pray to the God upon whom this once-

      great country was founded.

      It is time to repent from our sins against

      Jesus Christ, and to ask Him for forgive-

      ness and guidance to get us out of this

      horrible mess we're in today. He has been

      patient with our sinful behavior, but His

      patience is running out. If we don't get

      over our prideful ways, the only thing left will be God's wrath and judgement…

      Only an idiot would choose to continue on

      the path we are on at this point in time.

    25. Mike McLellen, Grand says:

      Perhaps these youthful offenders should be placed in halfway houses or group homes…….in the neighborhoods of the liberals that want them released. Preferrably right next door!

    26. Matthew Malachi, Suw says:

      Adult Time for Adult Crimes – Thank you Heritage for your detailed position paper and for including the link to the Equal Justice Initiative's Report so we could better inform ourselves on both sides of the issue. I read both papers over the weekend.

      This issue raises very deep and thoughtful points on both sides. The examples that Heritage utilized generally lent credence to your position, but the gang member who shot his fellow gang member by mistake poked a hole in your argument. I saw that as Murder 2, not premeditated murder. That kid was the Barney Fife of gangsters. Young and stupid, perhaps incorrigible, but certainly hapless. If he was an adult with a good attorney he would have gotten 20 to Life, therefore as a Youth I would have to think he should have been eligible for parole consideration after 20 years. But heck, just picking bone with you. EQI did raise some valid considerations also. In summary I think an either/or position is too rigid and simplistic for the matter at hand. Some youths' crimes are of such a heinous and wanton nature and are committed at an age whereby there isn't any excuse. Life without parole is appropriate. On the other hand there can be cases where the youth's young age and lack of developed adult reasoning can be cause for parole review after a time such as 20 years has passed. This does not mean that parole would be granted, but that society would extend the grace to this youth felon to determine and review the facts of the case.

      Years ago, a youth was a youth and no matter what his crime the law did not allow trying a youth as an adult. Over time this law was changed and youth can now be charged as adults. I would caution that if we don't give careful and thoughtful consideration to this trend we could end up trying 6 year olds as adults since society would not want him released when he was 18. You say it can never happen, but trends and actions once set in motion develop a life of themselves.

      I visited a Metro Youth Detention Center on a consistent, weekly basis for about 6 months. Over that relatively short period of time in the YDC I saw life transformation. And in some of those cases their crimes were very serious.

      One of the real issues going on here is that we have instituted mandatory sentencing all over our country for adult crimes. Why? Because we don't trust our judges' judgment. If a judge doesn't have judgment then why in the world is he there in the first place? By and large our judges are competent, learned people of the law attempting to do the best they can do with the stuff that society dishes out to them.

      I would suggest that in the case of youth offenders tried as adults that in lieu of mandatory sentencing that we allow for the judges to use their wisdom and discretion and that a youth offender who has been tried and convicted as an adult that we empower the judge to allow parole after 20 years or other appropriate time has been served. Most judges are either appointed by the Governor or elected by the people. If the judge strays too far from the bounds of what we feel is appropriate in short order they will be removed from office.

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