Monday, May 17, 2010

Kids in cages

"Children should neither be seen or heard from - ever again" said W.C. Fields.
Surprisingly, our activist Supreme Court has begged to differ. It was only five years ago that the Supreme Court finally decided that killing kids for justice was a bit behind the times, but of course some "Conservative" states have continued to sentence juveniles to life without parole. Chief amongst those states is Florida, which houses about 70% of them.

It would be hard to describe Florida as a particularly child-friendly state. Although I can't say it's particularly friendly to those who prey on them or neglect them, the poverty, substance abuse and ignorance that abound isn't child friendly either. Certainly "55 and older" communities are everywhere and as communities of older people are more likely to be afraid of the noise wild behavior and petty crime, there's a certain hostility. There's a certain feeling of helplessness and even terror amongst older people that can lead to hostility. It's a terror that overrides conscience in some cases and that sides with a draconian justice system while whimpering about a less powerful government.

Of course there's a big difference between chasing those brats off your lawn and locking them up in a cage for as long as they shall live, and that bit of casual inhumanity has at last drawn Supreme attention.
Terrance Graham was implicated in armed robberies when he was a minor and has been sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. The court voted 5-4 on Monday and Kennedy, writing for the majority said:
"The state has denied him any chance to later demonstrate that he is fit to rejoin society based solely on a nonhomicide crime that he committed while he was a child in the eyes of the law. This the Eighth Amendment does not permit." (as a cruel punishment)

This decision was a majority one because Chief Justice Roberts sided for once with the liberals although with the qualification that it should not apply to all non-homicide crimes. That of course makes the decision less than decisive. It's a step forward, but a timid and qualified step toward humanity; toward sometimes, in some cases allowing a second chance to someone who got caught doing what millions of others have got away with and never done again. That's just the sort of thing conservatives object to: making the law and justice more congruent; making the law for man and not man for the law -- and that's just the reason we need to balance the angry, self righteous and fearful elements on the court.

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