Devil’s Advocate: We shouldn’t allow convicted murderers on the streets

In Devil's Advocate, Opinion
Courtesy of MCT

Until recently, I rather enjoyed the phrase “life without the possibility of parole” because it meant that another criminal, possibly a murderer, is off the streets and rotting in a prison cell.

Yet since 2007, California has been edging toward a bill that would allow incarcerated juvenile murderers a chance for parole after they’ve served 25 years in prison and I cannot see why this should even be a possibility.

The entire point of the justice system, especially toward murderers, is to keep such convicts away from the regular population of normal citizens. Even if a murder is committed as a minor and they are sentenced to life without parole, they should continue serving their sentence regardless of the age that they were incarcerated.

This bill is overly sensitive toward killers who were convicted when they were young because some, such as child psychologist and State Senator Leland Yee, believe the teenage brain is “reckless and prone to disregard risk.” His argument is that the criminals were so young when their crime was committed that leniency should be given because their brains are not as developed as adults.

While I do agree that teenagers are more inclined to reckless behavior, I do not believe that murder or being an accomplice to murder should be described with the lighthearted term “reckless.”

No, murder should be considered criminal and should be dealt with the fullest extent of the law.

However, it seems like bill makers and politicians have short memories, as many of these criminals have had a history of violence that was extreme enough to solicit a life sentence.

These criminals had their chance to live in society, but they chose to break the law and either kill another person, or become an accomplice to a murder.

Yes, there are inmates who are considered to be “model” or “reformed,” but they literally lost their freedom the moment they took part in a violent crime that resulted in the murder of another person.

These inmates should live with their crimes and mistakes, even if they were committed at a young age, simply because we’re all expected to abide by the same laws.

I would be more welcome to the bill if it did not include inmates who were convicted of murder. The types of inmates that would be affected are not political prisoners or victims of circumstance; some are convicted killers with gang affiliations.

In a Los Angeles Times article about the same bill, writer Paige St. John reported that the bill would currently reconsider the sentencing of 309 offenders.

“They include a boy who used a table leg to bludgeon his probation officer, the teens who beat a 90-year-old woman to death with her cane and gang members convicted of multiple murders.” St. John wrote.

And while some might feel sorry for the juvenile inmates who get sentenced for life imprisonment, those inmates are in prison because society has nothing left to offer them.

Furthermore, this bill would undermine the established justice system as it would essentially be throwing out the decision of a criminal court. If a court sentencing can be changed, then that would give criminals the notion that the law is weak and it can be changed on a whim.

If these former juvenile inmates did not consider their actions toward the life of another person, why should citizens consider offering them a reformed prison sentence?

There has to be a line for juvenile criminals—convicted murderers and accomplices to murder—and it has to be upheld to show the general public that a life sentencing without the possibility of parole means just that.

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