Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Rising Generation Faces Problems

            There are all kinds of information in the news about problems caused by the rising generation and their futures. We all know about the numerous teenagers who decide to shoot up schools and kill classmates. These youth go through the justice system and hopefully receive true justice. However, there is apparently a limit on what they can receive.

            The suspect in the latest school shooting has been charged “as an adult with capital murder and aggravated assault on a peace officer.” However, he cannot face the death penalty for the crimes or may not even receive a life sentence. 

But the 2005 high court ruling that bans execution of criminals younger than 18 and a 2012 ruling about juveniles facing life in prison means that [the suspect] could be up for parole after 40 years.

“The courts ruled based on the idea that those 17 and younger don’t have the cognitive development to appreciate right from wrong,” said Michael Radelet, a University of Colorado at Boulder sociology professor who has testified in more than 75 death-penalty cases. “Cases like this that are especially violent and an enigma make some people think they are more deserving of death, but the ruling is about the development of the juvenile brain.”

            The above referenced teenage suspect will not lose his life and may receive parole from prison after 40 years. He has not been tried and sentenced, so we do not know what his punishment will be. However, another teenager recently learned how his behavior last summer will affect his future life.

            A 15-year-old young man in Oregon has been ordered to pay more than $36 million in restitution for starting the Eagle Creek Fire last year. The fire started on September 2, 2017, and burned 48,000 acres of forest land. There are eleven different victims with various amounts of restitution amounts. These range from $5,000 to an individual and all the way up to $1,048,877.52 to Union Pacific Railroad, $1,643,035.38 to Oregon State Fire Marshall, $12,500,000 to ODOT, and $21,113,755 to US Forest Service. 

            The teen’s attorney considers the number to be “cruel and unusual” punishment, but the judge does not believe that it violates the Constitution. He believes that it “is clearly proportionate to the offense because it does not exceed the financial damages caused by the youth.” Since the court realizes that the teenagers cannot pay the full amount right now or even in his lifetime, “an affordable sum” and payment schedule will be created.

If the youth wants to appeal this judgmental, there’s a lawful mechanism for him to do that, then they’ll get a statewide answer from the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court,” Phil Lemman, Oregon Judicial Department spokesman said.

The court can grant a full or partial satisfaction of the restitution after 10 years if the teen completes probation, does not commit additional offenses and complies with payment plan.

“The goal in this is to not get every last dollar the youth will make or ever will, but it will provide a structure so victims are acknowledged in their loss and the payments are made so that the youth has the ability to do that, and also to reform him, and also to deter criminal conduct,” Lemman said.

            The law will decide what the final amount will be, but it sounds like a lot will depend on the future behavior of the youth. He recognized his guilt when he pleaded guilty to the charge. Hopefully, he is up to the burden that he will carry. His parents are not being charged at this time, but they may be sued by one or more of the victims.

            My heart goes out to these young people and their families. If the brain of a 17-year-old is not developed enough to make rational decisions, what does this say about the brain of a 15-year-old? How many more teenagers will mess up their lives before this madness stops?

            I am the mother of six children, and I know that all of them did stupid things when they were teenagers. I cannot see any of them becoming a school shooter, but I can see them do something rash like playing with firecrackers in a dry area and starting a fire.

            Now I have grandchildren who are teenagers. They all have parents who are involved in their lives daily. They seem to be well grounded and responsible. They attend church and are active in school activities. They receive good grades as well as win awards. However, I know that teenagers do irresponsible things. After all, they are young, and their brains are not completely developed. How do we help the rising generation to become well-rounded and responsible adults without being saddled with problems like the teens referenced above?

No comments:

Post a Comment