« Prez Obama commutes 15-year sentence for marijuana offender down to 11.5 years | Main | Denver reporting notable 2014 crime reduction since legal pot sales started »

April 15, 2014

NY Times editorial laments "Echoes of the Superpredator"

While traveling, I missed this recent New York Times editorial discussing the persistence of tough juve sentencing laws after superpredator fears have receded.  Here are excerpts:

News reports — usually featuring images of glowering black teenagers — warned of the coming wave of violence that would flood the country. Respected criminologists bought into and amplified the hysteria.  Most destructively, almost every state passed laws making it easier to prosecute juveniles as adults, by increasing the number of crimes or reducing the age that triggered adult prosecution — and in some cases eliminating the minimum age altogether....

Two decades later, it’s easy to look back in judgment, but it would be a mistake to think the nation has fully moved beyond that mind-set.  Many states continue to punish juveniles as harshly as they can, even though the Supreme Court has held in a series of landmark rulings since 2005 that young people are “constitutionally different” from adults....

Some states have taken the court’s rulings, and its reasoning, to heart.  Since the ruling in Miller, five states have abolished juvenile life without parole in all cases.  In March, West Virginia lawmakers passed a bipartisan bill that provides parole review for any juvenile who serves at least 15 years in adult prisons.  Similar legislation is pending in Connecticut and Hawaii.

But other states keep fighting to prevent their juvenile offenders from ever having the chance to see the light of day.  Michigan now gives judges the “choice” of imposing a minimum sentence of 25 to 60 years instead of life without parole. Courts in other states have refused to apply the Supreme Court’s ruling retroactively, stranding many of the more than 2,000 inmates who were sentenced before the Miller decision.

The issue is not, as supporters of mandatory sentencing would have it, about going easy on criminals.  No one is ordering judges to release inmates who are not rehabilitated, or who pose a threat to society.  Rather, it is about giving legal meaning to the neurological, psychological and emotional vulnerabilities of young people. Those who make mistakes — even terrible ones — should not be sentenced to die in prison.

The myth of the superpredator helped spawn a generation of misguided laws that treated young people as adults, despite evidence that doing so actually increases recidivism. Most of these laws remain in effect.  The Supreme Court has rightly begun to dismantle their constitutional foundations, but some states are determined to act as if it were always 1995.

Recent related post:

April 15, 2014 at 10:14 PM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e201a73daba07d970d

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference NY Times editorial laments "Echoes of the Superpredator":

Comments

An 18% increase in violent crime from 2011 to 2012, and millions of violent crimes, most never reported? What does it take to satisfy the left wing ideologue there is a super predator problem. Pray, the NY Times writer gets pistol whipped in a car jacking. See how he likes it.

The NY Times is approaching the Huffington Post in its one sided bias, and lack of credibility. It is a hate speech propaganda outlet. Its hatred of America is foaming around the mouth.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 16, 2014 2:16:55 AM

“ The issue is not, as supporters of mandatory sentencing would have it, about going easy on criminals. No one is ordering judges to release inmates
who are not rehabilitated, ”
 These pretenders of NY pervert the obvious view of the conservative,
whilst denying the equally conspicuous advocacy of the liberal/progressive. Not content merely to revise near history,
they dare to distort present realities to boot. Or are they really so obtuse as a blind bum from Brooklyn?

As Ohio State Professor Doug Berman wrote: “That said, crime clearly went up dramatically from the early 1960s to the early 1990s,
and then started going back down over the last two decades. Conservative criminal justice policies are a big part of this story,”
-- Posted by: Doug B. | Nov 28, 2012 10:55:13 PM

 Does anyone have to order a judge to release a likely re-offender?
No, he’ll gladly do it short of MANDATORY MINIMUMS constraining his demented mind.

Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 16, 2014 9:26:10 AM

“ Rather, it is about giving legal meaning to the neurological, psychological and emotional vulnerabilities of young people. Those who make mistakes …”
 Cry a river, build a bridge, bake a cake, and deliver it upstate, [to a juvenile rapist].

“ Most destructively, almost every state passed laws making it easier to prosecute juveniles as adults.”
 Not as destructive as what a “juvenile” murderer did to his victim(s):

|Teen gets 18-months in 'knockout game' death|
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — A 13-year-old boy has been sentenced to 18 months of confinement for the beating death of a 51-year-old Syracuse man.
The teenager waived his right to a hearing that was scheduled for Friday. He had pleaded guilty …
The 16-year-old co-defendant was found guilty last month in Onondaga County Family Court of second-degree manslaughter and received the same sentence.

Read more: http://www.myfoxny.com/story/23359158/ny-teen-has-hearing-in-knockout-game-death-case#ixzz2z3WAzG96

Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 16, 2014 9:28:19 AM

I'm sick and tired of these self-serving politicians and owners of huge communications companies who shamelessly exploit the public's genuine concerns and fears about violent crime by pretending to be the friend of violent crime-victims. Instead of pursing ways of apprehending the guilty WITHOUT targeting the innocent from false arrest and false conviction, they trick crime victims into thinking that only by destroying the Bill of Rights and by stereotyping people by race and gender can victims be truly crime-free and restitution-guarenteed. It's high time we expose these John Walsh, Joseph Arpio, and other cynical opportunists for the rats they really are. Destroying civil liberties to combat violent crime will not ultimately make the law-abiding free. Look at what happened when Stalin and Hitler used draconian laws to combat violent street crime during their dictatorships: Only in the short run did it make the streets safe for a SELECT group of "respectable" citizens; while in the long run this repressive system ended up sending most of the innocent to concentration death camps. I don't want Stalinism or Hitlerism used in this country as a "remedy".

Posted by: william r. delzell | Apr 18, 2014 4:03:27 PM

Sad but true, everyone is sick and tired of the exploits of the politicians.

Posted by: Allison Williams Esq. | May 13, 2014 4:08:17 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB