Juvenile Life Without Parole

 

BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: We have a powerful story today about punishment for juveniles who commit crimes. The Supreme Court has thrown out the death penalty for such young people, but in 44 states they can still be sentenced to life in prison without parole.  Is that just for children – even for the worst crimes? Tim O’Brien reports from Tampa, Florida.

TIM O’BRIEN: Twenty-three-year-old Kenneth Young is serving life in prison with no possibility of parole for a series of hotel robberies in and around Tampa, Florida. It was June of 2000. Young had just turned 15 and was acting at the direction of 25-year-old Jacques Bethea, a neighborhood drug dealer with a long arrest record. Bethea would hold the gun. Young would take the money:

KENNETH YOUNG: The only thing he told me to do was get the money and the tapes, and that was it.

O’BRIEN: What tapes?

Mr. YOUNG: Like video tapes from the video cameras.

O’BRIEN: The security cameras?

Mr. YOUNG: Yes, sir.

O’BRIEN: And you did that?

Mr. YOUNG: Yes, sir.

O’BRIEN: Young says he had little choice. His mother was addicted to crack cocaine and had stolen drugs from Bethea. He believed her life was in danger.

Mr. YOUNG: He threatened to hurt my Momma.

O’BRIEN: What did he say he’d do?

Mr. YOUNG: Kill her.

Mr. YOUNG: Yes, sir.

O’BRIEN: Young’s mother, who says she’s been off drugs for more than three years, blames herself for the fix her son is in.

O’BRIEN: If you didn’t go along?

STEPHANIE YOUNG: Yes, I do, I do, because if it wasn’t for the drugs, me being on drugs, then my son wouldn’t be where he’s at today.

O’BRIEN: Young is being held at a maximum security prison in central Florida. Under Florida law, juveniles charged with serious crimes are tried as adults, and serious crimes — like armed robbery — can bring life in prison. And in the courtroom of Judge J. Rogers Padgett, being a child didn’t seem to help. It can even hurt the child who behaves like one, as Kenneth Young did.

Judge J. ROGERS PADGETT (Hillsborough County, Florida Circuit Court): So what we see is what we get in the way of a defendant. We get a person who shows no remorse. We get a person who is smiling in court, thinks it’s funny. We have a person who, while he is under consideration for a life sentence, is flipping signals to people in the gallery.

O’BRIEN: He’s only 15, barely.

Judge PADGETT: We have a person who gives no appearance of deserving any slack whatsoever and sentence him. So we give him a life sentence.

O’BRIEN: Enter law professor Paolo Annino, who runs the Children in Prison Project at Florida State University. Annino has been trying for years to get the Florida legislature to allow parole consideration for all juvenile offenders in the state to give them a second chance, his arguments as much moral as they are legal.

(to Prof. Paolo Annino): Is it your position that no juvenile should be sentenced to life without parole?

Professor PAOLO ANNINO (Florida State University): Oh, absolutely, and I think we’re immoral, ultimately, as a nation. This is no different from slavery or other major moral issues. Placing children in adult prisons for life is a death sentence for children. Do we want to do that as a society? Do we want to ignore our Western traditions? I mean, we do have Western traditions, and one part of our Western traditions is called redemption, and for many people in our culture redemption is an important value.

Judge PADGETT: There are some crimes that these people have committed that simply have no redemption. The victim and the public in general who know about the crime are looking for retribution.

O’BRIEN: It’s all about retribution.

Judge PADGETT: Retribution, right.

O’BRIEN: According to Human Rights Watch, the United States is the only country in the world that regularly sentences juvenile offenders to life in prison without parole. There are now more than 2,500. Pennsylvania has the most with 444. All but these six states allow life without parole for those under 18 at the time of their crimes.

Most of the crimes that bring life in prison without parole are far worse than Kenneth Young’s armed robberies. Most involved murder, often the murder of other children — crimes that shock the conscience and break the heart.

DAWN ROMIG (testifying): Good morning. My name is Dawn Romig.

post0e-juvenilelifesentenceO’BRIEN: In Pennsylvania, a Senate committee held hearings last October to consider doing away with life sentences for juvenile offenders. Lawmakers got an earful from opponents like Dawn Romig, whose 12-year-old daughter had been murdered by 17-year-old Brian Bahr.

Ms. ROMIG (testifying): We learned that Brian had made a list. It was called 23 things to do to a girl in the woods: “Beat her, check; rape her, check; kill her, check.” Everything on that list was carried out. It was an adult act he planned and executed. Why should these juveniles not get life in prison? Age cannot excuse what they have done.

JODI DOTTS (testifying): I never got to say goodbye to Kimmie. I never got to see her in a casket. I now talk to her at her grave still, 10 years later, on Mother’s Day. I’d also like to add, as I was sitting here listening to people saying they need second chances, my daughter didn’t have a second chance. She wasn’t given that choice whether to live or to die and I’m here to fight to make sure that these juveniles do not get released. Thank you.

O’BRIEN: What do you say to the parents of a child — whose child is murdered?

Prof. ANNINO: Well, it’s tragic and it’s very difficult, and I turn to a group that I’m associated with, and it’s called Mothers Against Murderers Association — and their children have been killed

O’BRIEN: MAMA Inc., a remarkable support group in West Palm Beach. Seventy-three women, all of whom have lost a child to murder, meet at this storefront office every other Thursday. The walls are lined with the photographs—the mother with her lost child.

On this day, Paula Bowe will be joining MAMA’s poignant photo gallery. Her daughter was shot to death by an ex-boyfriend—

PAULA BOWE: And he shot her. He shot her twice at point blank—once in the face, once in the neck.

O’BRIEN: What makes this association so remarkable is that, despite their grief, members do not seek retribution. Instead, they speak out against it.

ANGELA WILLIAMS (Founder, MAMA Inc): That’s one thing I tell my moms all the time: the only way they’re going to move on, they’re going to have to learn to forgive, you know, and if they don’t learn to forgive, then they’ll never be able to move on to the next step.

O’BRIEN: And Angela Williams should know.

Ms. WILLIAMS: I lost seven. I lost five nephews and two nieces in my family, and that motivates me to keep going to help others. Gun violence — all killed by guns.

O’BRIEN: MAMA is supporting Kenneth Young’s petition for clemency on the premise that any child should be given a second chance, even for murder.

O’BRIEN: Sylvia Manning is a preacher whose son was shot to death. She believes there’s hope for his killer, who has yet to be apprehended.

Reverend SYLVIA MANNING: I feel as though whoever did this to my son, they can be redeemed. I mean, if they know Jesus they can be redeemed.

O’BRIEN: It’s a religious issue to you?

Rev. MANNING: Not really religious. It’s what my heart says.

O’BRIEN: Linda Battle is a Palm Beach County deputy sheriff whose son Eric was run down and killed by a drug dealer.

LINDA BATTLE (Deputy Sheriff, Palm Beach County, FL): I worked in the jails, and I see the juveniles come in there for major crimes, and they’re just babies, and I don’t know what got them to that point.

O’BRIEN: What got them to that point? The U.S. Supreme Court, in rejecting the death penalty for juvenile offenders four years ago, relied in part on the growing body of psychiatric evidence that shows why children often fail to act as responsibly as adults,

Dr. RICHARD RATNER (American Psychiatric Association): In a nutshell, it is that the brain has not really matured. You do not really have an adult brain until you are in your early 20s.

O’BRIEN: You have actual, empirical evidence of that?

Dr. RATNER: We do.

O’BRIEN: Ratner says that magnetic resonance imaging — MRIs like this one — show that juveniles use a different part of the brain in the decision-making process than adults, making them more likely to act irrationally, less likely to appreciate the consequences of what they do.

Roughly 25 percent of the juvenile offenders serving life with no parole for murder never murdered anyone; rather, they were following the lead of an older adult. But under what’s known in the law as the felony murder rule, they are just as guilty as those who pull the trigger and often sentenced just as harshly.

Prof. ANNINO: They follow these older adults, and then the adults commit a murder. So the kid never has the gun in his hand. The kid never touches the gun. Many times—

O’BRIEN: But he’s still charged with murder?

Prof. ANNINO: He is charged with murder and gets the exact same sentence.

O’BRIEN: An accessory is as guilty as the principal?

post0j-juvenilelifesentenceProf. ANNINO: In the state of Florida it is exactly the same, and that’s the felony murder rule, and we have it not just in Florida, but around the country, and the felony murder rules denies the individuality of the child. It ignores the fact that you have a child here, and you’re treating the child just like an adult.

O’BRIEN: Among those who have problems with that, we were surprised to find the judge who had sentenced Kenneth Young to four consecutive life terms. Judge J. Rogers Padgett said judges have no way of knowing what might become of the children who appear before them and, at least where the victim doesn’t die, their fate should be left to the Department of Corrections.

Judge PADGETT: If I went and talked to Kenneth, I might have sympathy, too, because I firmly believe the Department of Corrections ought to be given the latitude to determine when these people are ready to go. What do I know? At the time of sentencing, I’m doing a snapshot. So what do I know?

O’BRIEN: But in Florida, as in most states, it’s too late to turn back the clock. Even the sentencing judge cannot reopen this case decided more than seven years ago.

Ms. YOUNG: It’s hard. It’s so hard — the sleepless nights that I have had. And every time I go to see my child, and I have to leave that prison without my baby, it just takes something out of me. It hurts. It hurts so bad.

O’BRIEN: Unless Florida changes its law, or the governor commutes the sentence, Kenneth Young will die in prison. He will never get out.

For Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, I’m Tim O’Brien in Tampa, Florida.

  • alwayer

    This case is so hard to believe. Florida needs to end the practice of automatic certification for children under 16 – especially where it does not involve murder. Armed robbers have been reformed by juvenile systems for over a hundred years. There is no reason at all to put a 15 year old in the adult system when there is a chance at reform.

  • Mel Beckman

    An excellent story! It illustrates well why we are working for an end to juvenile life without parole in Nebraska.

  • concerned

    Please keep fighting for these kids..For “ALL” of the children who are forced to go through the adult court and prison system. I strongly beleive what we do to these kids is truly barbaric, inhumane and morally wrong this type of treatment desparately needs to stop. There is no excuse for us to force children to be something they are clearly and factually not, they couldn’t be, act or even look like an adult even if they wanted to. Shame on us “adults” who point fingers at children and want nothing but vengeance!

  • Theresa Yuricic

    This is such a huge issue that hurts our children. Children and not adults and are still capable of change and growth. When Kenneth was 15 years old he made a childish mistake. I have met Kenneth, and he is now a 23 year old man who understands this mistake. If the mothers of murdered children in MAMA can find it in their hearts to forgive, why can’t the rest of us wake up and realize the mistake that is made when we lock away a child for life and throw away the key?

  • Jennifer

    While we understand the need for a robust public policy discussion on this and many matters in the larger questions of how we conduct our criminal justice system in this nation, we who are the victims of these killers who were under 18 at the time of their crimes, have one significant concern that is NOT being addressed in this article nor in any other media that we have seen regarding this difficult issue.

    That problem is this: victims families walk away from a horrific murder and the ensuing on-going nightmare of a trial with the assurance of a life without parole sentence for this most heinous act by a human being possible. They walk on with some legal finality and do not look back. They are not being told that advocates are trying to get their legislatures to retroactively CHANGE the sentence of the offender without due process, without a court of law weighing in, and without ANY opportunity for them – the victims families – to have any say in the proposed legislation.

    If the advocates against JLWOP sentences want to push legislation to make retroactive chances in a life without parole sentence, the victims family must be notified and given a chance to have some input into the considered legislation.

    These families deserve legal finality. They have a constitutional right in most states, and a statuatory right in all the rest to be notified of and heard in all matters pertaining to their cases.

    How can they be heard in this if these well-funded advocates for the offenders do not invest some of their vast budgets (millions and millions spent on “researching” under age 18 murderers in this country in the last three years – not so much as a DIME for their victims, to find them, talk to them, bring them to the table in this discussion) into including them in this public policy discussion.

    We ask that the victims families be found, included, and supported to be heard in this debate.

    We demand it. No one can imagine the damage done in our lives that has not been a mile in our mocassins.

    Human Rights Watch, and anyone else, who says that they want to make changes in these kinds of laws should be investing just as much of their resources into finding and supporting the victims as they are in documenting the horrible time these offenders are now having in prison because they decided to kill our loved ones.

    Most of our loved ones were brutally tortured and horrifically murdered, even mass murdered as in my family’s case.

    “Routine” murders do not rise to the level of a juvenile being tried and sentenced as an adult to life. Only horribly aggravated murders that are exceptional in their calcuated nature.

    Over half of these supposed “juvenile” offenders in the nation were 17, some within days of their 18th birthdays.

    Brain development theory is being grossly missapplied here. Under that argument even a 23 year old could not be held in any way accountable for their offenses.

    My children knew it was wrong to kill when they were 6. And they were able to comport their behavior in such a way as they did not take any lives.

    Most of these offenders were not acting on impulse and were not acting under peer pressure.

    We ask for support for the victims of these crimes.

    Thank you,
    The National Organization of Victims of Juvenile LIfers NOVJL
    http://www.jlwopvictims.org

  • Theresa Yuricic

    This piece brings to light an issue that hurts our youth. Kenneth Young was only 15 when he made a childish mistake…but he was just that, a child. I have met Kenneth and he is now a 23 year old man who understands the mistake that he made. He deserves a chance at life. He deserves the opportunity to be an adult outside of prison walls. If the mothers of murdered children in MAMA can understand that children deserve a chance, why can’t the rest of us wake up and realize the mistake that is made when we lock away a child for life and throw away the key?

  • SANDEE

    OBAMA HAS CHILDREN, MAYBE THIS IS SOMETHING HE COULD LOOK INTO

  • shirley Drummond

    I am a mother frist then a minister of the word of GOD I have a son in PA prisons who has been wrongly convicted of murder the night that they said he did this he was home a sleep in my home with his son and girlfriend in my livingroom he had just got done cutting trees down he was so tried got a shower and went right to bed very hard work he had been doing this for a year or so three people said he said he killed 2 people people he told them he got rid of gun he has been in prison for 5 months he has 2 children they have nothing else these 3 people do herion and one sells it they have destoyed my family who 20,000 reward released from jail bingo money no da no gun just here say unbeleveable help philadelphia pa mother and minister shirley DRummond please pray for us and this world GOD help us shirley drummond

  • Alex

    I think the story doesn’t make any sense and it is boring.

  • linda

    It’s unimaginable to think he did not murder anyone and is in jail for life.

    When the Supreme Court of this country took the Bible out of the schools in 1963 our country started going to pot!! The USA needs to take the 10 Commandments seriously or we will never get out of the messes of this country until the Second Coming of Jesus! Amen!

  • Reform

    The fact that any adult would consider a life disposible is barbaric. We need to set the example of foregiveness and redemption. Yes there are those who may not be rehabilitatible but are we willing to through all of these young people away because of a select few? These juvenile offenders are childen and should be under our protection. Instead we leave them in the hands of courtrooms, DA’s and judges who are seeing only a snapshot (as the Judge said). I applaud Mothers Against Murderers Association. They are the example of healing in a terrible, painful arena.

  • Iris Maldonado

    The pain and suffering endured by a victims family is imposible to fathom. Nothing can bring back their loved one, but that includes reribution. To punish a youth with life without parole is just another injustice and does nothing relieve the pain, or undo the crime. Didn’t our mothers teach us when we were children that 2 wrongs don’t make a right? Well, that is still true. To punish a youth with life imprisonment in an adult facility is an unimaginable cruelity. It declares that this person has no value. There is no hope for them. This judgement and treatment is every bit as unconshunable as the crime that lead to it. Please examine your conscience and speak up in behalf of the youth who have been sentenced to death by imprisonment. We can and must change he laws in this couny that give a judge no discretion, but force him to sentence youth to life without parole.

  • Doug Tjapkes

    Alex won’t think the story is so boring when it’s his kid

  • Brandon

    we use juvenile dettention, barely and now we are giveing a 15-year-old boy life in Adult prison without chance of Parol? whats up with that…i mean we came out with Juvenile Prison, i mean say a teenager got charged with murder, we don’t send him/her to ADULT PRISON, we should send them to Juvenile Prison, untill they are 18….then they goto ADULT PRISON, not when they’re 15…thats just to much, i mean, do you know how many teens die in adult PRISONS? 4000 year, alot huh…..you don’t hear that happening in Juvenile Prison or Juvenile Detention do you, no you don’t because, there are no Adults with worse crimes there, that are trying to prove themselfs…
    there is no point in sending a teenager to Adult Prison for something, we should wait till they are at least 18 before they go there, this is all i have to say about Youths being sent to adult PRISONS

  • Devin Shannon

    I am an advocate for having someone pay the consequence for committing a crime… BUT 4 CONSECUTIVE LIFE SENTENCES? That is ridiculous. Just like most of the other writers, I feel his age is a very important factor to consider. 15 years young and Kenneth’s life is already over all because of a situation he knowingly had no control over. Wrong is wrong, but the sentence must match up with the crime. Please give this young man a fighting chance. Give him and all others like him Clemency!

  • Deborah Jackson

    I thought this story was so touching.I am expecially proud of my friends in WPB for forming the MAMA. Angelia God bless yu and all yur family.

  • Sandra

    I would love for one of the judge’s kids to get put in jail for the same reason this kid did. I don’t wish anyone any harm, but since reason is not penetrating his mind, personal experience might. His logic is purely racist. Just because a kid is acting immature in court doesn’t mean that you add years to his sentence. There is absolutely no connection between acting a fool in court and adding more prison time: acting a fool is not a crime and there is nothing in the books that says you go to jail for it. I realize that the judge, the plaintiffs, the community all want to see him judged and receive penalties for his crime. That is what we all want. But you don’t add more time to his sentence to life in prison just because he was being silly in court during the trial. The judge was supposed to caution him and remove him from court if he didn’t obey. This judge failed in his civic duty as a courtroom judge. In fact, his behavior was just as immature as the boy’s was. The community will be well served when he matures as a judge and human being or leaves the court system.

  • Sharletta Evans

    I am receiving this info a week or so after listing. I am a mother that has lost a child to violence. I heard the word Clemency, There are so many factors concerning this matter of Clemency. Every crime differs, every child differs, every state law differs. We should be able to come together and pass a law for decussion. Every teen tried as an adult should be considered. I forgive, I pardon, I believe in second, third and fourth chances. Can we talk? Mother on the Move

  • Kathryn Price

    My sister is currently serving life in pennsylvania she was convicted of 2nd degree murder, but the person who actualy commited the murder was convicted of first degree murder why should my sister get the same punishment? anyone can be in the wrong place at 17 and not know what to do. when they see somthing like this happen. My sister had never been in any trouble. She was a straight “A” student, with no reason to hurt anyone so why life? she did not plan this, she has now served 18 years for this crime she has shown over the years her character, never has she placed blame or asked for anything other than for the law to be fare. Just the fact that you are pesent and a crime takes place dose not make you evil or even guilty. Take a moment to think of what you would do if you saw a hlorrible murder happen before your own eyes at the hands of a person you thought you new. Do yo really know how you would react? now concider you are 17 and you live in a fairly new town 2500 miles from the small town you grew up in. You dont know anyone other than the few people you have meet at work or at school.I know God is in control and maybe some day she will be free but until then we pray that God uses her for his purpose.Thank you for your time. A faithful sister

  • Paul

    This piece graphically illustrates the criminal enablement that has become so prevelent in our society. Having dealt with offenders for over 27 years, I never cease to be amazed at the well meaning, but nonetheless wrong headed views of people who end up destroying those they seek to save by denying their significance and the significance of what they have done. I this young man were truely redeamed as lawyer in the piece claimed, he would be seeking to use his time as productively as possible and admitting that this is truely what he deserved. The key difference between to two thieves crucified with Jesus was that the one who was redeemed stated “We are here justly.” The comments here graphically show how distorted the notion of justice has become. Redemption is not about escaping the consequences of ones actions, but honorably embracing them, and doing what one can to demonstrate that the person is willing to take full responsibility for their actions. This piece and the comments here destroy this young mans significance with misguided sentimentality which they misconstrue as compassion. This is also another example of the promotion of irresponsibility that pervades our culture. You do this young man no service by infantalizing him this way.

  • Ann

    Although, I feel for the murdered person and their families. I also see grown Adults committing Murder,Rape,Robbery and everything imaginable under the sun but, Their punishment and time served are less than life sentences. They are usually out on the streets in 3 to 7 years.

  • Dave Bear

    A very important detail at the beginning of this story is at best misleading and at worst inaccurate. The story states “Under Florida law, juveniles charged with serious crimes are tried as adults…” This statement at least implies to the reader that the juvenile MUST be charged as an adult. This is incorrect. Under Florida law when a juvenile who is less than 18 but more than 14 years old commits a felony offense it is usually within the state attorney office’s discretion whether to try the juvenile as an adult. There are a few mandatory circumstances, such as when a 16 or 17 year old has previously been found guilty of a few very violent felonies or if the juvenile has previously been charged as an adult. But the article says that Mr. Young was 15 at the time of his offense, so unless he had previously been charged as an adult it was not required that he be tried that way. The state attorney’s office looked at Mr. Young’s criminal history and the circumstances of this crime and determined that the public safety required that he be tried and punished as an adult. Also, if Mr. Young has chosen to accept responsibility for his actions and plead guilty I’m absolutely sure he would have gotten less than a life sentence. He chose to deny his guilt and go to trial and that got him life.

    If you go to a juvenile court you’ll see kids who think they can commit horrendous crimes and get away without any significant punishment. The juveniles are joking and snickering to one another; they think it’s just a game. The problem is that we don’t punish the kids significantly enough so they’re not anticipating the general deterrence which is built into the length of an adult sentence. Start with punishing juveniles more, not just letting your heart bleed for the most violent of the juvenile offenders.

  • Neecy

    To Alex, I think some comments are best kept to yourself.

  • Celestine Sparks

    April 14th, 2009
    Hello, my name is Celestine Sparks. I am writing on behalf of my grandson, David Sparks who was originally arrested on 9/4/06 for curfew violation. His mother my daughter was informed that he would be taken to the 39th police district. Upon arriving there at the station she was informed that David was taken down to the Police Administration Bldg. as a witness to a homicide. She proceeded to the Adm. Bldg. and was informed a detective would talk with her related to why David was there. Nobody ever came to talk with her. At the time, David was 16 yrs. old. She remained at the Adm. Bldg. Until 6 AM. Later that day she received a telephone call from Detective Morrano indicating David was being charged with murder. Based on a witness who identified David as the shooter. As of this date, several things have transpired such as a warrant was issued for the actual shooter however he was killed several months after this incident. In addition, the parents of the deceased made a statement indicating they were aware of who killed their son.

    I am writing you because I need some type of direction to have the process moved along so my grandson can be released. In addition, my grandson was questioned without his parents or an attorney present. The detective completed a DNA test but did not provide all of the results during the trial. David’s DNA was not a match for the items recovered at the crime scene. As of this date, the Detectives have not completed a through investigation. The police and the Detectives were aware of where the shooter was but did not talk with him prior to his death because he did not have a lawyer at the time and no more attempts were ever made to interview him or his brother .The incident started from the younger brothers altercation with the deceased.. The community informed the police in the 39th & 35th district who the shooter was but nothing was done. What it appears to me is that because of all the shooting within communities the police need someone to blame however they have a innocent person traumatized. I need something to be done to help resolve this issue. I have attempted to speak with community leaders, political personnel and others however everyone turns a deaf ear to the truth. The police Advisory board has accepted the case but IAD indicates there is nothing they can do to assist my family in resolving this matter because the case was in court when they were originally made aware of the incident. When community people provided the police with information to at least question others about this incident they refused to act because of persons not having attorneys but a persons life is at stake and it appears the people who suppose to protect the community has just settled for what they perceive to be their truth without regards to the community.

    On October 25 2006, it was brought to my family attention where the shooter was hiding out. We notified the State Parole Board to inform the Parole Officer about the person he (the shooter) was living with. The parole Officer informed my daughter to contact the detective who was handling the case. Upon doing so Detective Morrano called my daughter a liar, and told her the witnesses on David’s behalf were liars which is defamation of character and he refused to take statement from them. We were not privileged to the detective name who was handling the case for the shooter Ivan Simmons.

    My grandson proceeded to trial with an ineffective attorney who charged my family an enormous amount and gained the trust of my grandson by making him believe his case was easy. He counseled him to not select a jury as he was not prepared for the case and the judge (the attorney’s personal friend) gave my grandson life without parole in addition to 5 yrs for a gun charge however the gun was never found.

    The commonwealth used circumstantial evidence (paid witnesses) to find David guilty of a crime he did not commit. No physical evidence was used, as they have none. The Judge stated the commonwealth witness’s stories were inconsistent with their original statements However because David was outside at the time of the incident he was guilty. The Judge stated she believed he was the person they saw and sentenced him to life. However, her decision was not based on facts

    What I have problems with is the fact a through investigation was never completed. Persons who were implicated in the incident were never questioned. An innocent person life is at stake based on a lie.
    Your assistance in this matter is greatly appreciative

    Celestine Sparks
    4447 N.Gratz St
    Phila.PA.19140
    215-4550969
    What happened to rehabilitation. What is being done about witnessess who musrepresent themselves or make false statements

  • austin wallerbelly,,,

    ok,, so im doing a report on juviniles being charged as adults for murder,, damn right they should! they shouldnt get any more slack than a regular male,, it doesnt matter.. its still murder. someone still lost there life,,

  • sarah perry

    Someone loses their life in murder… but does two wrongs make a right? Isnt that what we teach our children? Give everyone a chance? We have to look at all possible reasons for what the youth has done.

  • Celestine

    My grandson was charged as an adult for a murder he did not commit. Police in philadelphia know he did not commit the crime but refuse to stand up for what is rightand the truth. to this day police have yet to acknowlwdge their mistake however in court the detective indicated heand other detectives went to talk with the killer but he did not have a lawyer and they never went to his home again. Thekiller was killed some months later but my grandson was charged and given a life sentence without a chance for parole for a crime the community and others know he did not commit.The judge even saidat he trial the commonwealth wittness es storried was inconsistent. She further stated she believed he commited the crime because he was outside but the facts to the crime everybody appears to ignore

  • Gina Divine

    Hello, I was wondering if it would be possible to share this video with our congregation this Sunday?? If it is possible, can you please send me the directions on how to save this file so I can insert it into an existing power point presentation. Thanks so much

  • Angel

    I have no sympathy for this criminal. He was old enough to know what he was doing was wrong. He could have called the police for help that is a lot easier, but he CHOOSE not do do that and to commit the crimes instead. If he were let out he would only go back to crime and others would be hurt in the process. The victims need justice. He is the guilty one and he should pay the time. He was robbing people for goodness sake, he and his partner carried a gun. He is exactly where he deserves to be in prison.

  • jason

    this is not right we shod try to cang the law but i see what the mothers seay to im a Juvenile and i say that we shodl give then a nother changs

  • niesha

    i do belive that he should have been punished for his crime, but i don’t think he should have been tried as an adult. our sorrounding sometimes influnces our actions and when you are a child it will have a much greater impact on you than it would if you were an adult. when the person above said he should have went to the police that easier said than done. i dont think robbery should earn you life in prison….if he didn’t take anyones life why should he loose his. to hash of a punishment.

  • Teg

    children today are more vicious and irresponsible than ever before. I wouldn’t for a moment consider further empowering them with the promise of leniency.

  • David

    These monsters had the brains to follow through on these heinous crimes. They have proven, at a young age, that they are not fit nor to be trusted to live amongst us. They’re where they belong; incarcerated away from the rest of us. When they can figure out how to give the victims a 2nd chance at life we can then talk about a 2nd chance for the perp. Until then, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

  • secretary

    In other countries a male is consider an adult at 13 year old. At 13 they can handle a AK-47 or a RPG. He can kill and destory or be killed or destoryed. Maybe that when a child does a crime against society a part of his body is remove Something that fits the crime. While this might not stop crime from happening it would send a message to those that their actions would cause them pain for the rest of their lives. It would be kind of hard to be involed in robbery if you are running around in a wheel chair.
    Living in jail for decades with 3 meals a day and a semi-safe cell may sound like Hell today, but think what other countries do to their young offenders.

  • Margaret McClurkin

    Consider the case of Christopher Pittman who, at such a young age, killed his grandmother and grandfather. As horrible in nature as the crime was, Christopher is serving a 30-year sentence. In the UK, he would have been placed under the care of adults who would have monitored and guided him until he reached the age of 21 at which point he would have been released.

  • Carl

    Just cause you are under the age of 18 does not make you a child. No one over the age of 10 should be labeled a child. We are not sticking infants in prison for life, we are holding young adauts responsable for there actions. In almost every other aspect of a teenagers life its to become more adult untill it comes to pay the price of there actions.

  • HEN

    CORRECTION

    FLORIDA IS A BARBARIC STATE – IT IS UNCONSCIONABLE THAT A JUDGE COULD SENTECE A CHILD, A BABY, TO LIFE FOR
    ROBBERY. IN THE CASE OF KENNETH YOUNG,
    A CHILD WHO WAS JUST 14 YRS OLD – AND
    BEING FORCED BY AN ADULT CRIMINAL
    TO PARTICIPATE IN CRIMINAL ACTIVITY
    IS NO MORE RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS ACTS,
    THAN ANY PERSON – BEING FORCED OR
    COMPELLED TO COMMIT A CRIME, FOR FEAR
    FOR HIS LIFE OR THE LIFE OF HIS FAMILY. I AM HARD ON CRIME AND ON
    CRIMINALS – BUT I AM SOFT ON CHILDREN -
    AND EVEN THOUGH SOME MAKE WHAT WE BELIEVE TO BE CONSCIOUS DECISIONS TO
    PARTICIPATE IN CRIMINAL ACTIVITY – AT
    WHAT AGE, STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT, DO WE
    DETERMINE THERE IS NO HOPE FOR REMORSE,
    REHABILITATION AND/OR MATURITY. HOW DO WE ALLOW THE GOVT TO DECIDE THIS HUMAN BEING, THIS CHILD, SHOULD BE LOCKED
    AWAY FOREVER. THIS IS CLEARLY A TYPE
    OF GENOCIDE, THAT INVOLVES POOR,
    MINORITY CHILDREN, OFTEN INVOLVED IN
    ACTIVITIES BECAUSE OF THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES. IF WE PUT MONEY IN
    IMPROVING CONDITIONS IN OUR COMMUNITIES, OUR SCHOOLS, AND IN
    JOB TRAINING INSTEAD OF PRISONS WE
    COULD RIGHTLY CONTINUE TO CLAIM WE
    ARE THE GREATEST NATION. WE ARE LOOSING
    STATUS IN THE WORLD – WE HAVE MORE PRISONERS THAN ANY COUNTRY – AND WE PUT LESS EMPHASIS ON EDUCATION THAN MANY COUNTRIES- IT’S NO WONDER. WE MUST LEARN TO FORGIVE – PUNISHMENT SHOULD BE COMENSERATE TO THE CRIME – SINCE WHEN IS A ROBBERY COMMITTED BY A CHILD EQUAL LIFE W/O PAROLE. SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE – SAVE OUR CHILDREN.

  • T

    This is really something else. I have heard of children being lead by adult criminals, and taking the wrap for the crime. However, this case sounds like he was a vicitm of intimidation and kidnapping (based on the article) However, I do feel that youth these days (2009) are committing more serious crimes and dispositioned to residential treatment facilities for 3-6 months. At which time, the consequences are not fitting the crime. This then does not allow the youth to begin to understand what “taking responsibility for ones actions” means. Assisting in their continued criminal lifestyle and mind set. Overall, not reducing recidivism in our juv justice system. We have even more work to do in our judical system, than in the early 70′s. God Bless our children that are products of adults self distructive conditions.

  • midnight956

    We need to stop sentencing young people to die in jail.

  • Tobey Llop

    Aberrational parenting can hardly be expected to produce the best citizenship. A life sentence for a child is a crime. Did the judge get a kick-back from a private prison? Incarceration should always be about rehabilitation, even though not all “criminals” will rehabilitate in the course of a single natural life, especially individuals who were never “habilitated” in the first place. Some will be lifers, not because of their offenses, but because of their inability learn to embrace an ethical life in a well designed correctional setting, which includes inmates earning their keep. Prisons should never be private, since outcome-based reimbursement, the release of law abiding citizens, could never be applied in a practical way. No one should profit from depriving others of freedom and only un-rehabilitated offenders should not be detained indefinitely.

  • georgew

    If Alex doesn’t understand the article and finds it boring he is clearly uneducated and may find himself someday in a situation where he will hope others have studied the issue. One has to wonder about the intelligence of people who think it is always cut and dried, and it is not necessary to look at upbringing, abuse, maturity, personality disorders and other factors as potentially mediating. 4 consecutive lift terms for robbery is way beyond reasonable. As a judge myself, I would certainly opine that the sentencing judge should be turned away by the voters at the next election. Seems like he has only read part of the “rule book.” We have judges for their expertise in law. If they are not going to use it, but rather just follow a matrix, they should be replaced by a computer programs.

  • Sumayah

    I am wife of jlwop [juvenile life without parole] who has in been prison for 30 yrs who did not murder or rob anyone,and was not treated fairly in his case wasn’t read his rights properly all i am saying is where is the justice there is lot of cases where young boys maybe guilty or not guilty but was they treated fair. PLEASE JUST BE FAIR!! Please people lets get to legislation its and issue thats going away.

  • deanie

    I am a mother of a juvenile in Maryland who was given the sentence of life without parole. He was 16 years old. Please, I just want them to give him another chance. He was given the same sentence as the person who actually committed the murder. Please if someone would just talk to us! PLEASE HELP US.

  • Deng Giet

    There is no life without foregiveness, for they should always think of justice

  • stop whining people!

    Enough with the crying sympathy from you people – take accountability and responsibility for yourselves, your children and your communities.

    Even at average intelligence, 15 years old is enough to know right from wrong on major issues like murder, rape, etc. Stop making excuses!

    Death penalty for children was cancelled, probably because you all whined about it. Now you whine about life imprisonment. Next you’ll whine if they have to serve *any* jail time because ‘that will make them even worse criminals’. Throughout this article and comments all I see is crying for the criminal, but not much for the victim.

    I fully support victims families forgiving the criminal and making peace in their lives – but forgiveness doesn’t mean that a jail sentence should be cancelled. We owe it to the rest of the community to keep criminals off the streets.

  • AJLind

    *** Reading this two years later in 2011 and I am a registered Republican and conservative that believes that Florida needs to focus on this issue because I believe it is a human rights issue. As a conservative I am ashamed of this state and it’s conservative laws that treats children like adults. In this incident Kenneth Young did not actually touch the firearm himself. It is outrageous that he should be treated as an adult and as if he were the one with the gun when he was not. Also, Judge Padgett should be ashamed of himself for not knowing what “life in prison” meant. These were lives that he was controlling and to say that he “did not know the sentencing rules” is absolute proof that ALL JUDGES SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO TAKE LEGAL EDUCATION CLASSES ANNUALLY OR BI-ANNUALLY TO REMAIN ON THE BENCH SO THAT THEY SENTENCE PEOPLE KNOWING FULLY WHAT AN ACTUAL SENTENCE. It is nice that Judge Padgett now has regrets, but the point is that a young man’s life is in jeopardy because of his ignorance. I hope that Paolo Annino reads this and considers the application of educating judges who sit on the bench because anything less is a miscarriage of justice. I think that a new law that requires sitting judges to be educated should be called The Kenneth Young Legal Education Act. I wish Kenneth Young the very best and perhaps a letter to new Governor Rick Scott may help in a clemency bid. ***

  • WOWWOWOWOWOW

    I writing this to let you all know that i’m doing research on this topic in my class and i’m the only one that thinks that the should serve life. i lost my sister from murder. her EX-BOYFRIEND KILLED HER for seeing her with a friend of hers.. like best friend . and they give him 30 years he was 17. she die at the age of 15