Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dozens of children in U.S. face life in prison

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We are a prison nation... So much for wanting to help kids... When people see murder, death, destruction, and all the other sex and death on TV and in video games on a daily basis, from when they are children, WHAT THE HELL DO YOU EXPECT??? Monkey See, Monkey Do!!!! If you lived in some other country, and from the day you were born you saw people killing each other, raping each other, and other horrendous crimes, eventually, you will also start doing the same, it's common sense.

03/21/2008

Underage criminals cannot face the death penalty in the United States but dozens of offenders imprisoned for crimes committed when they were young teenagers will still die behind bars.

The U.S. Supreme Court abolished the death penalty for minors in 2005 but 19 states permit "life-means-life" sentences for those under 18, according to a study by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI).

In all, 2,225 people are sentenced to die in U.S. prisons for crimes they committed as minors and 73 of them were aged 13 and 14 at the time of the crime, according to the group, which is based in Montgomery, Alabama.

Elsewhere in the world, life sentences with no chance of parole are rare for underage offenders. Human Rights Watch estimates that only 12 people outside the United States face such sentences.

Judicial reform advocates say the U.S. provision is an example of how harsh sentences have helped cause a jump in incarceration rates since the 1970s. The United States jails a higher percentage of its population than anywhere else in the industrialized world, these advocates say.

"These kids have been swept up in this tide of carceral control that is unparalleled in American history," said Bryan Stevenson, director of the EJI. "We have become quite comfortable about throwing people away," he said.

Others defend the statute, arguing it is popular with voters and gives comfort to victims to know that perpetrators of serious crimes against them will not one day walk free.
- So much for loving thy neighbor as thy self, and loving thine enemy.

They also use an "adult crime, adult time" argument -- minors who commit adult crimes should be punished as adults.
- No they should not, they are NOT adults, regardless of the crime.

"I SAW HER IN FLAMES"

The case of Ashley Jones, who was 14 when she killed, illustrates the seriousness of many crimes that result in for-life sentences.

One night in August 1999, Jones and her 16-year-old boyfriend, Geramie Hart, angered by her family's disapproval of their relationship, went to her home in Birmingham, Alabama. They set her grandfather on fire with lighter fluid, stabbed him and shot him dead.

They also stabbed and shot dead Jones' aunt in her bedroom and set her grandmother on fire.

Jones' 10-year-old sister, Mary, was asleep in bed but they dragged her to the kitchen to see the attack on her family.

"I had to sit there and watch her (Ashley) torture my grandmother. I saw her in flames," said Mary Jones, recounting her ordeal in an interview in Alabaster, Alabama.

"Geramie ... picked me up by my neck and pointed a gun at me and said: 'This is how you are going to die.' Ashley said: 'No, wait. I'll do her.'"

They stabbed Mary Jones repeatedly, puncturing a lung, and drove off leaving her and her grandmother, whose injuries included burns, stab and gunshot wounds, to stagger outside.

The questions raised by criminal cases involving teenagers are difficult to answer.

Is a young teenager responsible for crimes in the same way as an adult and to what extent, if at all, should courts consider a minor's family situation and background?

"It goes against human inclinations to give up completely on a young teenager. It's impossible for a court to say that any 14-year-old never has the possibility to live in society," said Stephen Bright, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights.

"LOST ALL HOPE"

The Equal Justice Initiative has filed suits in six states challenging the life-without-parole sentences and has brought a case in federal court in northern Alabama over the Jones case, arguing it represents cruel and unusual punishment.

Hart is also serving the same sentence.

The group says a disproportionate number of the minors serving the sentence are black or Hispanic and many were tried as adults with inadequate legal counsel. Also, it says up to 70 percent were given mandatory sentences.

Not all those serving life-means-life sentences for crimes committed as minors are convicted killers.

Antonio Nunez was convicted of multiple counts of attempted murder and also aggravated kidnapping and sentenced to life without parole for his role in a kidnap, police chase and shootout in April, 2001, in which nobody was injured.

Nunez, aged 14 at the time of the crime, grew up in a part of Los Angeles where gang activity was common. In 2000, he was wounded and his brother killed in a gang-related shooting.

His sister Cindy Nunez said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles the life sentence devastated her family.

"He has lost all hope .... We try to keep his spirits up by saying something will change in the law," she said.

Mary Jones, now 19, is attempting to reconstruct her life. She testified against her sister in court but has visited her in jail. She blames Hart for changing her sister from "the sweetest girl" into a murderer.

"She should have a chance to have a life. Her life shouldn't just be taken away from her like that. Sometimes I'm kind of mad and then I'm sad," she said. "I practically lost her too because she is in prison."

(Reporting by Matthew Bigg; Editing by Michael Christie and Eddie Evans)


DEFINITION - Ad hominem

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The vigilante way of carrying on a conversation... Sounds very familiar!

An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: "argument to the man", "argument against the man") consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim. The process of proving or disproving the claim is thereby subverted, and the argumentum ad hominem works to change the subject.

It is most commonly used to refer specifically to the ad hominem abusive, or argumentum ad personam, which consists of criticizing or personally attacking an argument's proponent in an attempt to discredit that argument. It is also used when an opponent is unable to find fault with an argument, yet for various reasons, the opponent disagrees with it. Many times, an opponent's use of an ad hominem attack is an indication that the opponent realizes that the argument itself is correct and cannot be refuted.

Other common subtypes of the ad hominem include the ad hominem circumstantial, or ad hominem circumstantiae, an attack which is directed at the circumstances or situation of the arguer; and the ad hominem tu quoque, which objects to an argument by characterizing the arguer as acting or arguing in accordance with the view that he is arguing against.

Ad hominem arguments are always invalid in syllogistic logic, since the truth value of premises is taken as given, and the validity of a logical inference is independent of the person making the inference. However, ad hominem arguments are rarely presented as formal syllogisms, and their assessment lies in the domain of informal logic and the theory of evidence.[1] The theory of evidence depends to a large degree on assessments of the credibility of witnesses, including eyewitness evidence and expert witness evidence. Evidence that a purported eyewitness is unreliable, or has a motive for lying, or that a purported expert witness lacks the claimed expertise can play a major role in making judgements from evidence.

Argumentum ad hominem is the inverse of argumentum ad verecundiam, in which the arguer bases the truth value of an assertion on the authority, knowledge or position of the person asserting it. Hence, while an ad hominem argument may make an assertion less compelling, by showing that the person making the assertion does not have the authority, knowledge or position they claim, or has made mistaken assertions on similar topics in the past, it cannot provide an infallible counterargument.

The argumentum ad hominem is a genetic fallacy and red herring, and is most often (but not always) an appeal to emotion.

It does not include arguments posed by a person which contradict the person's actions, for example:

If person X argues that touching water will cause death, and then person X touches water, then it is reasonable to assume that what person X said is incorrect and that they knew it to be incorrect at the time of making the statement.


MT - Former Jackson County deputy avoids prison time in teen’s sex abuse case

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03/21/2008

Steven Burgess was on duty as a Jackson County sheriff’s deputy last July when he found a group of teens partying after hours in a park near Fort Osage.

He rousted the bunch, except for a 15-year-old girl. After the others had gone, the deputy put the girl in the passenger seat of his patrol car and, according to court documents, had her perform a sex act on him.

On Friday, Burgess, 33, now a former deputy, walked into a Jackson County courtroom facing up to 14 years in prison. He walked out a free man.

Circuit Judge Robert M. Schieber gave him the full 14 years, but then suspended the sentence and placed Burgess on five years of probation.

“We are very disappointed,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jim Kanatzar said. “We thought incarceration was the appropriate sentence.”

The prosecutor’s office asked for seven years each for the charges of statutory sodomy and deviate sexual assault to which Burgess had pleaded guilty in December.

Even Burgess’ attorney, John P. O’Connor, thought he could see some prison time. O’Connor knows that Schieber’s decision probably surprised some people, but he thinks justice was served.

O’Connor pointed out the defendant’s military service, previously unblemished record as a law enforcement officer, marriage with three children and good psychological assessment.
- Yeah, yeah. Funny how they don't look at all this when it's the average citizen, but when it's a cop or someone well liked, they get a slap on the wrist. SO MUCH FOR EQUAL JUSTICE!!!

Also, O’Connor said, putting a former police officer such as Burgess in prison is dangerous.
- Awwww, to bad... If it's good enough for the average citizen accused of the same, who are beaten on a regular basis, then so is it for him... THIS JUST GOES TO SHOW, THE "GOOD OLE' BOYS" GET A WAY WITH ANYTHING....

“It would be like a death sentence,” O’Connor said.
- Yeah, so is putting anybody in jail/prison who is accused of a sex crime.. WHY IS HE ANY DIFFERENT? JUST BECAUSE HE'S A COP? THAT DOESN'T JUSTIFY THIS SLAP ON THE WRIST AT ALL...

And it’s not like Burgess got off easy, O’Connor said. He lost his job, must register as a sex offender and may have to move because his house is near a school.
- Bull----!!!!!!! He got off very easy.... He did a lot more than MANY sex offenders and they get a long term in prison or a lot more punishment, he gets a slap on the wrist.. Well, the registry in itself is a MAJOR punishment... I'd rather go to prison and get out knowing I did not have to be on the WITCH HUNT registry...

Palle Rilinger, executive director of the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault, declined to criticize the sentencing but said that when adolescents are abused by authority figures, “the offense is even more magnified.”

To reach Donald Bradley, call 816-234-7810 or send e-mail to dbradley@kcstar.com.


WV - Troopers: Former Jail Guard Had Sex with Inmate

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03/21/2008

CHARLESTON (WSAZ) -- A former guard at the South Central Regional Jail in Charleston was arrested Friday on charges he had sex with a female inmate while on duty.

Kevin Kessell, 26 of Dunbar, turned himself in after a warrant was issued for his arrest, according to a news release from Sergeant K.G. McCord with the West Virginia State Police.

McCord says a female inmate filed a complaint alleging inappropriate sexual contact between her an Kessell in one of the cells at the facility earlier this year.

State Police became involved after supervisors at the jail determined that state law was violated, according to McCord.

McCord says Kessell worked at the jail for approximately two years as a correctional officer. He resigned three weeks ago to take another job.

Kessell was arraigned in Kanawha County Magistrate Court Friday and was released after posting 10% of a $10,000 bond.


IN - Montgomery Co. inmate dies from apparent strangulation

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03/21/2008

CARLISLE - A man convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor died after being attacked in his cell at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility.

Robert Crane, 27, who appeared to have been strangled, died while being treated at a hospital about 1:30 p.m. Friday, two hours after the attack, prison spokesman Rich Larsen said.

Indiana State Police and prison investigators named Crane's cellmate, Michael Gibson, 33, as a suspect in the attack, Larsen said.

Gibson is serving a 119-year sentence for two attempted murders, battery, burglary and possessing a weapon, with an earliest possible release date of 2063, Larsen said. His crimes occurred in Morgan and Madison Counties.

The two prisoners were being held in protective custody, Larsen said.
- So much for "protective custody!"

Following the attack, guards immediately tried to resuscitate Crane, Larsen said. He was rushed to Sullivan County Community Hospital.
- Yeah, I'm sure they did.... Why did it take 2 hours to get him to a hospital? And why couldn't the on staff nurses, if there is any, do something? Why was he in a cell with a murderer?

Crane, who also had been convicted of attempted escape, was serving a 14-year term.

The Wabash Valley Correctional Facility houses more than 2,100 prisons in maximum and minimum security. It's located about 35 miles south of Terre Haute.