Friday, November 09, 2007

Beyond Redemption?

It’s Friday, and I know I should be thinking about something light and suitably fun for the weekend, but in light of the fact that Canada’s youngest convicted triple killer was yesterday handed the harshest sentence possible -- 10 years I find myself wondering about this sentence, and what the judge had to say.

From the article
"You can never undo what you have done to your mom, dad and little brother," he told the girl, who was 12 when she killed her entire family.
"However, what you can do is honour their memory by dedicating your life to becoming the woman your parents and brother would be proud of."
Brooker gave the girl, who cannot be named, the maximum sentence allowed under the Youth Criminal Justice Act for the slayings of her parents and eight-year-old brother in their family home on April 23, 2006.

Here’s what I’m left wondering. Why is it we look at kids who kill and think that perhaps they can still be redeemed?

Add this current Crimespace discussion into the mix and what I’m left wondering is, if we buy the argument that killing is fundamentally in our nature, shouldn’t we be more concerned about kids that have already been pushed to do what most of us resist doing? After all, if you’ve killed once, isn’t it easier to cross that line again? I find with most vices that’s true, because you realize the consequences are (sometimes) not as severe as you initially feared.

Shouldn’t we actually be giving more credit to people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, pushed to kill for the first time, because they resisted their primal instincts for so long?

Instead, we look at it from the opposite perspective, thinking children can still be reformed, and that the older you are, the more responsible you are.

Do we have it backwards?

*Before I forget, Daniel Hatadi has also provided hosting of the pdfs of this issue on his site and I've updated the links at Spinetingler accordingly. I'm hoping to have the original site updated tonight, and to be able to upload the pdf there as well.*


angie said...

Hooray for the great bald Aussie freak boy!

As for the kids who kill...well, I've worked with a few who did. One of them was so fucked up by what had happened, that I can't imagine her ever doing anything like that again. She was (in her mind) literally haunted by the ghost of her victim. Feels weird calling the victim a victim, since he had brutally abused her, but since he's dead and she's not, I guess it's technically true.

I dunno. Like most things in life, it's an issue that is so complicated that's I'm loathe to make a blanket statement about it.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I think one of the things that bothers me in this case was the influence of the much older boyfriend (and the argument that she wasn't really responsible b/c she was under his influence). Shades of Karla Homolka. Not the exact same, but still unsettling. When I think of what the mind sometimes can overcome, I wonder about future boyfriends.

But as you say, no blanket statements. If you buy the argument from that article posted on Crimespace, though, then is anyone really responsible? Aren't we just doing what's in our genetic make-up? Kill or be killed... survival of the fittest.

angie said...

Let's just say there is a good reason why I haven't posted, or read most of the comments on that particular topic. I'm certain I'd blow my cool and since I like my blood pressure just the way it is, it's not worth it.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I hear you. I've avoided it until today, and I've gotten better at letting things go if I suspect they'll bug me. In this case, I just don't see it as revolutionary, the only thing that bothers me is the justification argument that can be built from it.

Of course, people will use just about anything to try to justify murder these days...

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Like a lot of things in life, I think the answer to this one is, "It depends."

Take Angie's example. You have a child who has been abused to the point where she simply couldn't take it any more. I think it's entirely justifiable. Hell, given the chance, I'd probably pull the trigger for her. She's shattered by the experience. There isn't much more the state can do to her to punish her that she isn't already doing to herself.

Then there are kids like 15-year-old James Lamont Bagsby, who, in June of last year, after escaping from the Victorville juvenile facility, wandered onto a playground full of younger children and opened fire with a handgun, striking 11-year-old Anthony Michael Ramirez in the back and his brother, 13-year-old Joseph Ramirez. Anthony died on the way to the ER.

So, what do we do with Mr. Bagsby, who by the way was captured not long after. Last I heard he was due in court the following September, but I haven't followed up.

Is he damaged? Absolutely. Is that excusable? Not as far as I'm concerned. He's passed the tipping point. I don't know if rehabilitation is within his grasp, or if he can even understand the concept.

So, did this 12-year-old girl murder her family because she felt she had to, or because she wanted to? If the former, yeah, maybe she can be a stronger person for it. The latter, you're just letting another psychopath onto the streets.

John McFetridge said...

"Why is it we look at kids who kill and think that perhaps they can still be redeemed?"

Because our lives are based on faith and hope. If they were based on logic and experience... well, I can't even imagine.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am certainly opposed to capital punishment, but ten years for a triple murder, I don't know. I can't imagine she'd murder them if not abuse took place.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Patti, she was influenced by a much older boyfriend (10-12 years older than her) and there was no evidence of abuse that ever came up as I recall, just teenage rebellion gone extreme.