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Monday, August 15, 2011

Mr President, please cry for the kids of America

Dear Mr president,
The children of Your country are in need of your support when it comes to transforming the juvenile justice system into something worthy of a wise and compassionate nation, rather than the national disgrace it is today.
I know I know, your a busy man and, the economy of the united States is on the verge of collapse, so you may not have time to keep up with all these cases of kids locked up by your uncaring bureaucratic system. Quite frankly there's so many of them that the rest of us can't keep up either, but don't you threat sir, I'll summarize the facts of a few cases for you so that this won't take up too much of your precious time. .

9-year-old Christian Romero
13-year-old Jordan Brown
12-year-old Paul Henry Gingerich
13-year-old blade reed
Are all perfect examples, in their own way, of a system designed to inflict damage and harm on the little ones, rather than rehabilitate and steer them right.

What's wrong with the system?

Poorly educated police officers
Being an educated man, I'm sure you know that children are especially vulnerable to leading questions and pressure during police interrogations and, that there is a heightened risk of false confessions when police officers use tactics that are legally permissible with adults on children.

Yet children in your country are often intarrogated without parental authorization or legal counsel and, according to a 2004 study, false confessions accounted for about one-fifth of all wrongful convictions, with high percentages of those involving murder cases and child suspects. 20 % of the cases sir! How many children are then currently locked up in american adult prisons for crimes they didn't commit? And how many guilty murderers are still out there? Perhaps better education among police officers could remmody some of this problem.

the plea deals
It's hard to pass over that adults in your country are getting off with serving 15 years for 3 murdered children, as for example in the case of John Skelton
, or even getting ecquittad, as in the case of Casey Anthony, while 8-year-olds have to plea gilty to murder to avoid being tried as adults. Not old enough to sign a contract, in fact, barely old enough to be allowed to walk to school on their own, but in the eyes of the american law,they're old enough to know exactly what they're doing as soon as they commit a crime. Further more, they are also perfectly capable of understanding legal termonology and, enter a plea "knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily." They are also of course, just like the adults, threatened with the terible sentence they'll be given if they insist on a jury trial. Take a look at the statistics for some of your public defender's offices and, see how many cases that makes it to jury trials. I read that in L.A California, only 1 out of 900 made it. Should we honestly believe that the other 899 defendents were guilty? Or is there a possibility that they just had to plea that way?

Prosicuting children as adults
In most cases children are prosicuted as adults when it comes to murder and, with 20 % of the children actually not guilty, we can all be very greatful that the US supreme courte suddenly came to it's sences in 2005 and, decided that children under 18 shouldn't be executed. Something that the rest of the world had known for years. With the exception of countries like: Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Excelent company for an an Industrialised country such as the United States, Don't ya think?

More over, now that children no longer can be executed they can still be sentenced to life without parole. This, although it's been proven that the brains of children are not yet fully developed, especially with regard to impulse control. children, who are still developing physically, mentally and emotionally, do not have the same level of culpability as adults and require special treatment in the criminal justice system appropriate to their youth and immaturity.
That's something that all the leaders of the 194 countries where they have signed the convention on the rights of the child, have ratified, accepted, or acceded to it (some with stated reservations or interpretations) including every member of the United Nations. With 2 exceptions.

One of the c´´ountries which has a problem with that irritating stack of directions for how to treat children is, somalia. But considering that a child dies every 6 minutes in that country that may not be very surprising.
The other country however, is the United states of America. Now that, is a little bit more difficult to explain isn't it?

the reasons?
Does it stand to reason that the convention didn't get ratified because the US wanted to keep being able to execute it's kids if it wanted to? As the convention forbids capital punishment if the crime was commited when the person was a child under 18 years of age.
In its General Comment 8 (2000) the Committee on the Rights of the Child stated that there was an "obligation of all States parties to move quickly to prohibit and eliminate all corporal punishment and all other cruel or degrading forms of punishment of children".
Now does it also stand to reason that United states of America still hasn't ratified the convention, because now that it can't dispose of the children that fell through the cracks of the social services programs, so that they never learned that hurting people generally isn't the solution to one's problems, it wants to be able to lock them up for life?

lets have some examples:
9-year-old Christian Romero
13-year-old Jordan Brown
12-year-old Paul Henry Gingerich
12-year-old Blade Reed,

9-year-old Christian Romero Was manipulated into pleading guilty to negligent homicide in the shooting death of Tim Romans, 39. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to never charge the boy in the death of his father, Vincent Romero, 29.

A released police videotape shows a tearful 8-year-old in St. Johns, Arizona, confessing to murder after more than an hour of questioning by detectives, of course with no parent or attorney present.
"I think, um, I think I shot my dad because he was suffering, I think, so, I may have shot him." the third-grader says, then buries his face in his shirt.
That admission led detectives to arrest the boy on Nov. 6, one day after his father and another man were shot dead at the family's home on a quiet residential street.

The mother doesn't believe he did this shooting. Nor does she believe that her son, given his age, understands what he's being asked to plead guilty to, and the consequences of it," defense attorney Ron Wood said. But by accepting the plea, the third-grader avoids an adult murder trial and possibly a life sentence.

County Attorney Michael Whiting said he agreed to the plea because Christian likely would have been found incompetent to stand trial. In that event, state law would have required the boy's release without any supervision or restrictions until around age 15, when he could be tried as an adult. Now, . The sentence will include intensive probation, counseling and possible time in juvenile detention. Christian also faces a possible ban on attending school unless psychiatrists conclude he is not dangerous. The boy faces evaluations at ages 12 and 15 and before his 18th birthday.

Using legal terminology, which at times is difficult even for adultls to understand, the judge, Roca, outlined the plea and explained that the boy would be waiving his legal right to stand trial, confront witnesses and either testify or remain silent.
"Tell me what I just said," the judge told Christian.
"That they can't talk for me," Christian answered. "I have to talk for myself."

Relatives in the audience shook their heads, but Roca ruled that the boy entered his plea "knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily."

Now what do you think mr president? Does a 9-year-old understand such things? And what if he's actually not guilty? He still says he's dad was already shot when he entered the scene. Should the police be allowed to threaten him into confessing just because his story was inconsistent? How consistent should we expect the story of an 8-year-old child to be when he had just found his dad dead on the flor? What if the real murderer is still running around out there, But we'll never know will we, cause he had to plead guilty to avoid being put away for life.

There is also the case of 13-year-old Jordan Brown, who has been encarcerated for over 2 years in Pensylvania without receiving a trial, because the state can't make up it's mind as to whether he should be tried in juvenile court or not. Because you see in Pensylvania children can not withhold that they're innocent of a crime, then they are automatically beyond rehabilitation and should be put a way for life. Something that may explain why Pennsylvania currently leads the nation in the number of juvenile lifers, and accounts for nearly one-fifth of the U.S. total with more than 450 inmates doing life without parole for crimes they committed as minors.

Yes, the lower court judge concluded that Jordan Brown failed to prove he could be rehabilitated and treated within the juvenile system, since he did not admit guilt or accept responsibility for the crime with which he has been charged. There by violating the boy’s right not to incriminate himself. Something that the Pennsylvania Superior Court agreed with On 11 March 2011, when it ruled against a lower court decision not to transfer the 13-year-old's case to juvenile court for trial.
However the same judge also refused to set bail in the case for the same reason. There by putting a child, who after all should be viewed as innocent until proven guilty, at risk of becoming a typical product of a “corrections” system that is too often a school for crime and a breeding ground for dysfunction.

A child has a right to a speedy trial according to pensylvania law, but Jordan Brown has celebrated both his 12th and his 13th birthday behind bars and, he is still wating for the state to decide whether 11-year-olds are children or not, cause apparently being one isn't enough.

The prosicutions case?

Well, evidently the cops found Jordan's youth-model 20-gauge shotgun, which by the way they're having trouble proving was the actual murder weapon, in his bedroom and, it took them 5 hours to decide that Jordan had shot his stepmother in the head some time between 7 a.m. and 8 a AM on the 20th of february 2009. With the 2 younger siblings in the house, but neither of them noticing anything. He then supposably left the house as if nothing had happened and caught the bus to school with his stepsister as usual. All without anyone noticing anything strange about the 2 children's behaviour.

They found no blood neither on the gun nor on the boy himself and, as for gun powder residue, well they found 2 small specks, probably a memory of that weekends practice when Jordan and his father were shooting at targets.

Apparently we're suppose to believe that an 11-year-old child was smart enough to keep the blood off of the gun from a close range shot, dispose of the empty shotgun shell on his way to the schoolbus, but not even try to hide the gun, nor clean it for that matter.

Next, they say that Jordan's story was inconsistent. Well, he was pulled from class and, told that his stepmom, Kenzie Houk, who was 38 weeks pregnant whith his brother, had been murdered and, that the baby had also died. Then he was interrogated by the police with neither his father nor a lawyer present. But we shouldn't expect any shock from the child, right?

His 7-year-old stepsister was treated the same way and, after Extensive questioning by the police the girl thinks she saw her stepbrother with the gun that day and that she heard a bang. Her story isn't considered to be inconsistent however, even though she only remembered this when they got to the second round of questioning. More over, nobody seems to find it the least bit peculiar that she heard a loud bang, but didn't run to check out the situation.

All their physical evidence has come back from the state crime lab clearing Jordan, and yet they’re sticking to their implausible, senseless theory.

All this while the former boyfriend and father of Jordan's 2 stepsisters, Adam Harvey, just had found out that he was indeed not the youngest girl's father at all. The same Adam Harvey who was the object of not one, but two PFA (protection from abuse) orders taken out against him by Kenzie in 2006 and 2008.
More over, Jordan’s lawyers received a tip that Kenzy's former boyfriend had tearfully admitted to a friend at a party, “I killed my old girlfriend,” and this tip was passed on to police in writing—though more than a month later Trooper Jeffrey Martin, who was heading up the murder investigation, denied to reporters any knowledge of this letter which had been addressed to him.

Does that possibly sound like it could be consistent with the second most common reason for justice not being sirved? That reason being:
Evidence suppressed by the police force.

But lets have another example:

Twelve-year-old Paul Henry Gingerich, who was tried as an adult in Indiana for a homicide planned and executed by a 15-year-old friend, who finally set a number to the days and nights of abuse he would tolerate from his cruel stepfather.

In the media and, in courte, Philip Danner’ was depicted as an upstanding guy who was the victim of his troubled stepson, because his family apparently didn't want it revealed that, rather than being a “pillar of the community” as Danner posed, he was in truth a man who allegedly abused his stepson in at least two different ways: with physical violence when he’d been drinking and another way when he was sober. Colt’s mother should have known, but seems to have done nothing to protect her son.

Neighbors also knew about the physical abuse but kept quiet. They could hear the boy’s screams all the way down the block as he was beaten. Kids at school knew about the physical abuse too. They could see the bruises on Colt’s body; they could see the pain he so often experienced. The school officials should have known too, But remained quiet as well. More over, the police in Kosiusco County completely failed to discover, or at least to report, these circumstances, and the facts were never presented in court.

The night of the shooting, What began simply as a runaway plan was at the last minute switched to murder by the older boy, and Paul Henry found himself out of his depth in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Unwilling to risk a threatened 45-year sentence, Paul Henry was forced to accept a plea agreement identical to Colt’s.
Ignoring all evidence to the contrary, Judge Huffer claimed, “Our laws do not afford effective rehabilitation for a child charged with murder." in spite of pleas for mercy in acknowledgment of Paul Henry’s younger age and, despite the fact that he had not planned the murder or fired the fatal shots, judge Reed handed down identical sentences for both boys. And so Paul Henry was sentenced to a 30 year term to be served in adult prison.

if they can Do the crime, they can do the time
Yep, we've all heard the argument often enough. An adult crime requires adult consiquences. Now wouldn't you like to know exactly what these "adult consiquences are"?

Blade Reed a sixth grader withthe the mental capacity of an 8-year-old due to autism, ADHD, and life long abuse, was sent to Wabash Valley Correctional Institution, and arrived there on Christmas Eve in 2009. These are some of the “adult consequences” this little boy has suffered since then:

January 6, 2010 – A much older inmate attempted to rape Blade. Blade fought back and there was a heated verbal altercation. Blade was written up and received 2 weeks in solitary confinement as well as the loss of 15 days of his 2-for-1 good time.

March 4, 2010 – Blade had a temperature of 100, and refused to attend class that day. He was written up for his refusal and lost phone and recreation privileges for 1 week.

March 29, 2010 – A much older inmate raped Blade in the shower. Blade was punished with 15 days in solitary confinement, 15 days loss of 2-for-1 good time, and loss of phone privileges for 1 month.

April 16, 2010 – Blade attempted suicide by slitting his wrists. He was punished with the loss of 2 more weeks of phone privileges, and loss of recreation privileges for 2 weeks.

April 22, 2010 – Upset that his room was disrupted by guards during a search, Blade refused to clean up the mess. He was written up for refusing to obey an order, but received no other punishment.

April 30, 2010 –Blade retrieved a basketball during recreation without asking the guard first. He was written up for being in an unauthorized area, and lost recreation and commissary privileges for 2 weeks.

May 24, 2010 – Following horse-playing with his roommate (the first roommate he had since his arrival at Wabash), Blade was written up for disruptive, unruly, and rowdy conduct. He lost recreation and phone privileges for 2 weeks.

May 27, 2010 – Blade tattoos himself and cuts his arm. He was written up for disfigurement and lost recreation, phone, and commissary privileges for 2 more weeks.

June 7, 2010 – Blade was raped again by another inmate in the shower, and cut with a razor. Blade managed to get the razor away from his assailant after being cut, and cut the other inmate. Blade was punished with 1 year solitary confinement.

July 22, 2010 – Blade shut down while coming back from the showers, and dropped to the floor in a fetal position. The guards said Blade kicked one of them (causing a bruised rib) while they were cuffing and shackling him. Blade was written up and received 1 additional month of solitary confinement.

August 2, 2010 – Blade attempted suicide a second time by slitting his wrists. He was punished with 2 more weeks of solitary confinement.

August 5, 2010 – Blade attempted suicide a third time by slitting his wrists. He was punished with 2 more weeks of solitary confinement. He was also written up for covering the camera monitor in his solitary cell, and was punished with 3 more weeks of solitary confinement.

August 12, 2010 – Blade attempted suicide a fourth time by cutting his arm. He was punished with 1 month additional solitary confinement. Blade was also written up for resisting while being restrained by staff, and was punished with 1 more month of solitary confinement.

August 14, 2010 – Blade was severely beaten in the solitary shower area by another inmate. After he was injured, Blade once again managed to get the weapon away from and cut the attacker in self-defense. Blade was punished with 6 months additional time in solitary confinement.

August 26, 2010 – Blade was assaulted and injured again in the solitary shower area by another inmate. Blade managed to defend himself and get the weapon away from his assailant. Blade was punished with 6 months additional time in solitary confinement and loss of all 2-for-1 good time.

September 5 and 6, 2010 – Blade was written up again for covering camera monitor in his solitary confinement cell.

September 10, 2010 – Blade was injured during a takedown by staff. He resisted, received a write-up, and of course was punished with 1 more month of solitary confinement.

September 12, 2010 – While recuperating in the medical unit from his staff-inflicted injuries, Blade was injured by another inmate. Blade tried to get the weapon away from the other inmate, and was injured again by staff trying to subdue him and “de-escalate” the situation. Because Blade resisted, he was written up and punished with 6 months of additional solitary confinement time, and placed on “habitual violator” status. Because a desk was broken during the “de-escalation,” Blade was also written up for destruction of state property.

2 years, 8 months, and 18 days of solitary confinement for being raped and abused... is that how america should treat it's children?

PLEASE Cry for the kids of america
Some of the examples here include children who actually commited a crime. Terible crimes even, so they are not innocent as in not guilty, but who's fault is it?

In the cases of life long abuse, a lot of the culpability obviously lies with the parents, cause where were these children suppose to learn how to show kindness? But the rest of society is also responsable. Every single person who knew of their abuse without stopping it is guilty , as are the social athorities where they are often more concerned about the rights of the parents than about the rights of the child. Why else would one let a child stay in an abusive home. It should never happen.

The main problem however is, of course, the law, which allows children as young as 10 charged with murder to automatically be tried as adults unless a judge takes the unusual step of moving the case into juvenile court. The burden of proof in such cases falls on the defense to show why a defendant should be tried as a juvenile. But Mr president, shouldn't being a child be reason enough?

Whether you want to believe that these childrn are innocent or not, it should be pretty obvious that they are not capable of taking in the full consiquences of their actions . We don't expect our children to support themselves, raise families, or be able to raise children of their own. In fact we don't even let them watch movies or play cirtain video games with strong language or other inappropriate material. Why? Because they're children!

Yet when they commit a crime they are suddenly suppose to be capable of making decisions from an adult standpoint, so that someone, somewhere, can excersise their right to be vendictive and condemn a child to hell. Something that may be Especially important when there's an election coming up and, a case has been targeted in the media, so that the prosicuter and the judge can score some points for protecting the public against this terible child monster.

I just wonder what kind of monsters they'll be turning lose when these children get out after growing up in adult prisons.

Over only an 8-month 12-day period of time in an adult prison, Blade Reed was raped two times and almost three, attacked by other inmates three times with weapons (shanks or razors), seriously injured by staff once, attempted suicide four times, lost all gain-time, lost recreation, phone and commissary privileges, and had numerous psychological episodes for which he received inadequate therapy and instead was severely punished.

Again I ask you: Is that how america should treat it's children?

It is hard to say what it is about this terrible system that is worse than others. Which darkness is darker, more painful.

Is it the fact that the "land of the free" should be held to a much higher standard and set an example in these cases, instead of selling it's children down the river in the name of vengence?

Is it the hopelessness of being wrongfully convicted in a country where a newspaper with a headline about a 9-year-old monster who blew 2 men to peaces and, laughed while he was doing it, would sell 10 million more copies than a newspaper with a headline about the state violating an innocent third grader's rights? The travesty of being sentenced to spending the rest of your life in hell in a nation where most don't care about wrong or right, innocence or guilt, adult or child; "When in doubt, lock them up!" For it is better to be safe, than it is to be right...

Is it the coldness of a society, which allows children who have been the victims of life long abuse to be marked as hopeless cases and locked away for life. When indeed they should have been saved long before they felt that killing their abuser would be their only way out?

Is it the parents broken hearts, in those cases where there actually are caring parents, over not having the power to protect their children and, their helplessness when their babies are abandoned and, condemn to enless years in the evil darkness of an adult prison where they are especially easy targets for violence and sexual asults.

Or is it the horor of the little ones, the feeling that this is a sold game in which no one cares for the truth, be it as it may, because this system does not enable one to find out the truth. That this is not really a court, but only another tool of the injustice. Where children are guilty unless proven otherwise. Even if proven otherwise. Guilty because they are children who can be easily manipulated into confessing and serve as scapegoats so that the prosicuter or judge can win the next ellection.

Perhaps it's the hollowness of the word justice, in a place where evidence are frequently suppressed so that the state can protect itself against civil lawsuits. Where the denying words of a child are regarded as ridiculous, a superfluous waste of time, and mostly changing when the child and his parents learn that no matter what he did, or did not do, his fate is sealed, Because the system does not enable a child to defend himself.
there is no innocents, ever. Every voice of a prosicuter or cop is crystal-clear fact, as well as every incriminating testimony, always, crystal clear!. But not denial. Denial is not crystal clear, ever. Nor the claim that confession was obtained by force. That I signed something I did not understand. That I was afraid. That I was threatened. That I did not do it. No. I did not do it.
Everybody, even their defence lawyers say That it is better to confess. And indeed this is what the child usually does.

So in the end Mr President, all that remains to do is to wheep for the children of America. For they are part of a system that does not care to protect them and, The warmth of the wet, salty tears is the only possibly warmth inside this sinister ticking mechanism that no word could encompass or cover.

after all, the main thing of this system is the power that tramples. It emphesizes nothing but brutality. The important thing is to punish, To crush, To intimidate. Not as a means but as an end. Is that not right Mr President? For if it isn't, it's high time that something is done to protect the little ones of the country that you have promised to serve.

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