Children in Prison

Commentary on ‘A Murder Before Homecoming’, which aired on American Justice this week.

A Murder Before Homecoming

A&E aired the story A Murder Before Homecoming on American Justice this week. The good ‘ole boys in Texas have got to be the meanest, most ignorant men alive. I’m certain District Attorney Tim Cole was congratulated all-around for his convictions in this case. Did any of these men’s mothers have children who lived?

I could never be accused of being a liberal or someone who’s soft on crime but one certainly has to seriously question the logic of putting children in prison for life. Children, yes, I’m calling them exactly what they are. I mean come on people.

American Justice made a big deal out of the victim’s age — "she was only 16-years-old" — was a phrase repeated often. It took over half-an-hour to locate the ages of the boys involved in the murder. Well it’s tragic that a girl so young could be viciously gunned down. It made me sick when I was finally able to verify my suspicions. Two of the boys, the ones who did not pull the trigger, they were both only 17-years-old. One-year older than the girl, who was out drinking and partying, in the middle of the night, without her parent’s permission!

Did she deserve to die for being irresponsible? No. Do the boys deserve life in prison for watching someone else shoot an innocent girl in cold blood, then dumping the body and keeping silent? Well let’s see…

  • By law, the boys must attend school, until they are 18-years-old.
  • By law, these boys can’t be treated medically, without their parent’s permission.
  • By law, the boys can’t buy or consume alcohol.
  • By law, they can’t smoke cigarettes.
  • By law, the boys can’t drive without a license and their parent’s permission.
  • By law, they can’t work without a work permit from their school.

It is a well-known fact that girls mature at a younger age than boys do. All their lives they have been treated like children. The law prevents children from making important decisions for themselves, some – like drinking – until they are 21-years-old.

Anyone who has ever had children can tell you how long it can take for some children to grow up. Most children – especially boys, don’t really begin to mature until they are around 30 years-old.

Back in the 1800s & early 1900s, children were getting married at the tender of age of 12 or 13. There is a reason the laws have been changed. These two boys should be housed in a youth facility and given intense counseling, to help them cope with what they have been through. I can’t begin to imagine just how much a life in prison will change these young people, and how impossible it will be for them to adjust to living in society, onces they are released from prison, to return to their communities at the age of 50, having never lived on the outside.

The lawmakers have decided to pick and choose when they believe a child becomes an adult. It is unfair to them to be held accountable for a terrible mistake, when they weren’t old enough to cope with the situation they were in. For most accounts the older boy probably belongs in prison, he still wasn’t old enough to drink but presumably he could vote and make most other decisions for himself. Randy and Josh should be given the help they need, not thrown away like yesterday’s garbage.

If you agree – especially if you live in Texas, call your legislator, write a letter, and express your outrage. I don’t know any of the parties involved, but I do know what it’s like to be young, to do something stupid and to be forced to live with the consequences of those actions.

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