If I was a juvenile court judge, I would sentence Jim Butler for up to three years in incarceration facility. The following, is the set of considerations that had brought me to such a decision:
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- Jim did not only commit a particularly violent crime (armed robbery), but he committed it while being only 13 years old, which points out to the fact that, even at this young age, he has absolutely no moral reservations, for as long as the application of violence is being concerned. It appears that the “values” of gangsta-culture define defendant’s psyche – only utterly naïve people may believe that Jim is being capable of straightening out his ways, especially given the long history of his involvement with a law.
- After having examined Jim’s physical appearance (he is way too short for his age and is being affected by anthropological atavism), I came to conclusion that defendant’s fascination with violence is nothing but a behavioral by-product of his biological inadequateness. This conclusion is being further supported by what we know about Jim’s father (alcoholic) and mother (drug addict). Therefore, if being put on probation, it would only be the matter of time, before Jim would strike again – apparently, Jim’s anti-social attitudes derive out of particularities of his genetic makeup, rather then out of his conscious willingness to become hardened criminal. In this case, the considerations related to assuring public safety, overrule the considerations related to assuring Jim’s personal well-being.
- I dismiss the claims of Jim’s teachers as to that fact that their student could have had a bright academic future laying ahead of him (“his life circumstances have short-circuited his academic success”) on the ground of common logic – as practice shows, academically minded students do not go about smoking marihuana, shoplifting and committing armed robberies as their full-time occupation. Also, I dismiss claims as to Jim’s intelligence being “above average” – had this been the case, he would never proceed with perpetrating another crime, without even trying to assure that we would be able to get away with it. Jim has been lost to society ever since he decided that the rules of social conduct do not apply to him. However, since such his decision was of clearly emotional nature, we cannot seriously expect that “community-based education” could ever win him back to society, simply because of utterly rationalistic premises, upon which such education is being based.
- I dismiss Jim grandmother’s claim that her grandson’s criminal-mindedness accounts for the fact that he had made friends with some “bad boys”. As famous saying goes – “tell me about your friends and I will tell you who you are”. If Jim’s grandmother happened to educate herself on the basics of sociology, she would know that people always socialize with those, to which they can existentially relate – drug addicts hang out with drug addicts, gangsters hang out with gangsters, and professors hang out with professors. Moreover, even if there were any doubts as to an inborn nature of Jim’s criminal-mindedness – the very fact that he had chosen to socialize with “bad boys” would effectively eliminate these doubts.
- Apart from Jim’s biological abnormality, his problems also relate to the fact that he grew up without father. In other words – he has never been subjected to strong parental discipline. Therefore, putting Jim into the hands of Starbucks-coffee-drinking, better-wearing and tree-hugging social workers, which now had taken over “community-based education”, would be a mistake. As a result, Jim would become even more ruthless and disrespectful of the law. Thus, being sentenced to three years in incarceration facility is actually in Jim’s best interests – after having been personally subjected to violence, he might grow to be less tempted to apply violence to others in the future.
BBC News. (2002). Can you be born a criminal? Web.
Miller, G. (2000). American Gulag. Yes! Magazine. Web.