04 March 2012
They Deserve a Second Chance
Recently, I have researched cases of juveniles unfairly tried as adults and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Cases such as Joe Sullivan and Erik Jensen show that trying juveniles to life is unfair. Juveniles should not be tried as adults due to immaturity of the adolescent brain and damage to the family's emotional state, and that there is an alternative solution for their punishment.
"A child is not a man", is what the placards read that a growing crowd wrote outside the courthouse during the trial of 14 year old Nathaniel Brazill; who was being charged with life without parole for the murder of his English teacher. People who witnessed the trail said that Brazill looked dazed during the trail and that his immaturity was evident throughout this incident. Brazill was far from adulthood. Assistant Professor of Neurology Paul Thompson at UCLA did an article on the immaturity of teenage brains titled, Startling Finds on Teenage Brains. In the article, Paul Thompson said during his own research with the research group at UCLA, they came upon the information of what is going on with the brain during the teenage years. Teenagers has massive loss of brain tissue, the tissue is called Grey Matter. The Grey Matter that is said to be lost "supports all our thinking and emotions...connections are only being lost in areas controlling impulses, risk-taking, and self-control." These findings seems to makes sense because teenagers are notoriously known for risk-taking and lashing out. This proves the brains of these young criminals are still immature, when they committed their acts of crime. I'm sure the older ones know what they were doing, but following the power of impulse can make things just all go in a blur and happen so fast and they may not be able to comprehend at the moment what is going on until after the crime is committed and done or maybe not even then. Joe Sullivan was only 13 when one out of three boys raped and robbed a girl. Him being so young it was easier for the older boys to place him on the back burner and lie on him. The people of the court didn't even bother to check the background of the boys and notice that one had a history of sexual abuse history. Joe Sullivan is now paying the price of his life for crime he possibly didn't commit. Erik Jensen's story is somewhat the same except he was 17 and the story was a little different. Erik Jensen's friend named Nathan Ybanez killed his mother who was sexually abusing him. Jensen was not in the house when the crime was committed, but helped clean up because he was in shock and wanted to help his best friend. When arrested another friend who helped lied on Jensen and said that Jensen helped in the murder in order not to get arrested and now Erik Jensen is serving a life sentence with Ybanez for trying to help his friend because he knew what Ybanez was going through and previously tried to help Ybanez by confessing to his parents what he thought was happening to his best friend. Being that they were so young, they did not think or maybe could process what was going on due to the over powering feeling of impulse, an affect from the immaturity of the brain.
Even though, the juvenile's freedom is gone and chance to live life is taken away them they're not the only ones feeling the wrath, their families feel it to.