Recently I did an assignment for my Civil Rights class on two cases that the US Supreme Court is taking up in November. The cases are Graham v. Florida and Sullivan v. Florida. Both cases involve 13 year old boys that were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for non-homicide crimes.
Why does this country allow such a thing to take place. We are talking about children here. Mr. Sullivan is now 27, and has been abused so badly in prison, that he is in a wheelchair and will be for the rest of his life. In addition, he was tried as an adult at 13, and sent to an adult prison at 14.
What is it about this nation that is willing to write off a 13 year old? What if I were to tell you that there are only 9 13 year olds serving this sentence in the world? All of them in the United States? Or that 8 of the 9 juveniles are black? Because that is the truth. What purpose does this sentence serve? When did we decide that a 13 year old can even comprehend what the crime was they committed and should be punished, rather than rehabilitated through other methods?
I don't like this. As a mother, I abhor this thought. I think it reflects horribly on our society. And I will be watching the Supreme Court closely to see what they do.