Many crimes committed by juveniles tend to be relatively minor, in fact, the court system will generally seal a criminal record of a minor in order to avoid prejudice later in life.  The reasoning behind this policy is that those under 18 (known as being in infancy), are not adults who are as responsible for their actions.  There are some exceptions to this idea (some juveniles will be charged as adults), but generally, the courts want to give a child another chance.

However, for most juveniles, the longest they are kept in juvenile prison (though it goes by several different names), is until the child turns 18 or 21.  Because of this policy, some judges and courts face a difficult dilemma when a teenager has committed a serious crime.  However, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has signed off on the concept that a 14 year old could be sentenced to life without parole (AP)

Why Is Omer Ninham Sentenced To Life Without Parole From A Murder He Committed At 14?

Omer Ninham was convicted of first degree intentional homicide for his role in the death of a 13 year old boy in Green Bay in 1998.  Ninham with four other boys accosted Zong Vang while he was riding home from the grocery store.  Ninham and others started to punch Vang, who ran into a nearby hospital parking ramp.  Ninham and friends took Vang by the wrists and ankles, while he screamed, Ninham and friends threw him over the edge.  Vang fell 5 stories to his death.

Once the police began investigating, they discovered Ninham’s involvement from statements by the other boys.  While awaiting trial, Ninham was charged with threatening a judge and his friends who spoke to police.  In Wisconsin, any child over 10 accused of homicide can be tried in the adult system.

Are There Laws Against Harsh Punishments For Children?

The U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t ruled on what constitutes harsh punishment for a juvenile defendant with only 1 exception.  In 2005, the Court ruled that sentencing juveniles to death is unconstitutional as well as life with no parole for anything less than homicide was unconstitutional as well.  In deciding to sentence Ninham to life without the possibility of parole, the Wisconsin Supreme Court looked at statistics compiled by the Equal Justice Initiative in which 73 children under 14 across 18 states were sentenced with life without the possibility of parole.

Do you think a child should ever get the death penalty?  Is a life sentence without the possibility of parole appropriate for a minor?

 

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