A ghoul, an eater of the dead. From the Strib:
Should a 10-year-old be considered an adult?
Minnesota children that young who have been charged with violent crimes could be certified as adults, under a bill that is moving through the House. Under current law, children have to be at least 14 before they can be charged as adults.
And, a few grafs later:
Members of the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee took no action on Thursday, but Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, its chairman, made it clear he plans to push for the bill's passage.
"My intention is to move forward and not let it die again," Cornish said, admonishing members to "keep in mind little Emily" instead of a young offender he dubbed "little Johnny."
The bill would allow a judge to certify children as young as 10 if they are accused of murder, manslaughter, assault, aggravated robbery or sexual conduct.
As the article recounts, Emily, a two year old, was killed by Johnny, a thirteen year old. The bill, actually sponsored by Rep. Torrey Westrom, was heard in Cornish’s committee and featured the parents of Emily.
Cornish, pictured here, apparently wants to be ready if he ever has to cuff a baby. Up against the wall, little Billy! And spread ‘em! Cornish is the chief of police in Lake Crystal; he packs heat at the Capitol, and he’s an avatar for the pompous small town cop.
Losing a child is an unimaginable horror; losing one at the hands of another human being, regardless of age, is even worse. I don’t blame Emily’s parents for being champions of this bill; I blame the grand-standing yird swine like Tony Cornish and Torrey Westrom for waving the parents’ grief in front of us as part of an odious, cynical political stunt. I hope – and expect – that there is a special circle of hell for moral cretins like Cornish and Westrom.
If a ten year old has the moral capacity to be charged with murder as an adult – and receive a life sentence – shouldn’t he be able to vote, drive a car, or drink alcoholic beverages? Get married? Serve in the armed forces? Be a cop? How about be a member of the Minnesota House? What do you think, Tony?
If you read the linked article, you’ll see that opponents of the bill made several policy arguments against it. But the best argument is the moral one: children – that’s what they are – lack the capacity to think or function as adults. And after all, the punishment is supposed to fit the crime. We do have a juvenile justice system.
Here’s Dr. Laurence Steinberg on the adolescent brain:
When it comes to crime, [adolescents] are less responsible for their behavior than adults. And typically, in the law, we don’t punish people as much who are less responsible. We know from our lab that adolescents are more impulsive, thrill-seeking, [and] drawn to the rewards of a risky decision than adults. They tend to not focus very much on costs. They are more easily coerced to do things they know are wrong. These factors, under the law, make people less responsible for criminal acts.
Here’s Dr. Steinberg on brain research that backs up what we, most of us anyway, know about kids:
In the last five years, as neuroscience has moved forward with functional magnetic resonance imaging and with research on animals, there have been dozens of new studies of adolescent brain development. These show that the brain systems providing for impulse control are still maturing during adolescence. Neuroscientists have shown that the part of the brain that improves most during adolescence is the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in complicated decision-making, thinking ahead, planning, comparing risks and rewards. And the neuroscientific research is showing that over the course of adolescence and into the 20s, there is this continued maturation of this part of the brain. So now, we have brain evidence that supports behavioral studies.
Consider the moral depravity of a legislator – a committee chair – who thinks a fifth or sixth grader should do hard time when in every other realm of his life we treat him as, well, a child. Apparently, Cornish thinks that the state is merely the agent of private revenge. But if that’s all it is, think of how much easier and cheaper it would be to cut out the middle man, and just let the families have at each other.