Jennifer Bishop Jenkins On Punishment and Teen Killers

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Jennifer Jenkins

Jennifer Jenkins

“Some persons will shun crime even if we do nothing to deter them, while others will seek it out even if we do everything to reform them. Wicked people exist. Nothing avails except to set them apart from innocent people.”

— James Q. Wilson, Harvard Professor and Crime Expert

My youngest sister was the joy of our close family. When a teenager murdered her and her husband in 1990 in suburban Chicago, she was pregnant with their first child. She begged for the life of her unborn child as he shot her. He reported to a friend, who testified at his trial, about his “thrill kill” that he just wanted to “see what it would feel like to shoot someone.”

This offender is now serving three life sentences in the Illinois Department of Corrections. According to Charles Stimson, a leading expert in criminal law at the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, he is one of 1,300 cases nationally of a teen killer sentenced as an adult to life, sometimes called JLWOP (Juvenile Life without Parole).

There are advocates who wish to minimize these offenders’ culpability simply because of their age. As a high school teacher, I have worked lovingly with teens all my life and I understand how hard it is to accept the reality that a 16 or 17 year old is capable of forming such requisite criminal intent.

We in America have to own this particular problem, with weapons so easily available to our youth, and the violence-loving culture in which we raise them. The Innuit people of northern Canada had no juvenile crime at all until 1980 and the introduction of television into their culture.

Both sides in the debate about JLWOP agree: Teens are being tried as adults and sentenced to prison for murder at alarming rates in the United States. But this actually disproves juvenile advocates’ reliance on the “underdeveloped brain” argument. If brain development were the reason, then teens would kill at roughly the same rates all over the world. They do not. Advocates often repeat, but truly misunderstand brain research on this issue. The actual science does not, according to experts such  as Professor Stephen Morse, and others, in any way negate criminal culpability.

The offender in our case was a serial killer in the making. He came from privilege. Whenever he got in trouble, his parents fixed it. After a series of other crimes, he planned the murders for months, carefully and privately. He did not act on impulse or because of peer pressure. He was not mentally disabled — in fact was quite intelligent. But he got a rush out of breaking the law and ultimately started work on his other plan for mass murder at a local bank. Bragging to friends led to his arrest.

There are no words adequate to describe what this kind of traumatic loss does to a victims family. So few who work on the juvenile offender side can truly understand what the victims of their crimes sometimes go through. Some never recover.

The nationwide campaign to end JLWOP has spent millions of dollars advocating for these convicted murderers to be set free. Not a dime has been allocated for victim outreach or support.

With absolutely no regard to the impact on victims’ families, they have published glossy “reports” widely distributed to the media and legislators. They feature propaganda photos of 7- and 8- year-old child models on the cover, with misleading headlines that the United States was “sentencing children to die in prison.”

For the record, the nation is NOT sentencing children to die in prison. This photo is pure propaganda.

The juvenile death penalty was abolished here years ago and a life sentence still allows a great deal of good living to be done – even from behind bars – far more than these teen killers gave to our murdered loved ones.

Many JLWOP offenders are repeat violent offenders and many have killed multiple people. The propaganda campaign by the well-funded juvenile advocates attempts to paint a different picture.

Consistently, they don’t talk about the facts of the crimes, just the “poor children in prison.” And while we respect their right to advocate for reform, some of which is needed, we have begged them to embrace the victims of these crimes as well, and take a truly inclusive and restorative justice approach to their advocacy. Our pleas have fallen on mostly deaf ears.

The offender advocates have also promoted another horrible lie — that the United States is the only nation that sentences teens to life for murder. In fact, at least 11 other nations do, according to Stimson’s research. Many nations do the equivalent and far worse -– the juvenile death penalty, selling teens into sexual slavery, forced labor, sexual mutilation and the list goes on. Many nations do not have separate juvenile justice systems such as the enlightened system we have here, and many nations torture offenders of all ages without regard for human rights.

Legislative proposals for reforming JLWOP have been retroactive but without any victim notification, in full violation of constitutionally protected victims’ rights. Advocates who wish to believe in the nobility of their actions cannot wrong murder victims’ family members in this way without losing all credibility.  Restorative Justice shows us the way out -– a conversation focused on victims needs, with all stakeholders at the table.


54 thoughts on “Jennifer Bishop Jenkins On Punishment and Teen Killers

  1. I think that life without parole should be eliminated as a possible sentence for juveniles. Young people are far more likely to be rehabilitated than adults.

    A 17-year-old offender, if sentenced to life in prison, will become the responsibility of the state for the rest of their life, which might go on for another 60 years or more. It seems much more cost-effective to try to turn such offenders into productive members of society, even if there’s more cost upfront.

    • SFJD – none of us think that routine offenders, especially youthful ones, should serve long sentences. But we are NOT talking here about routine offenders. We are talking about a very small handful of murderers who have risen to the level that the state of California has opted, after several hearings protecting the rights of the accused to be found lesser or not culpable, to try as adults. They have to have committed not even a “mere” homicide. These are all highly aggravated murders or multiple murders – many after repeat offenses – all with “special circumstances”. We all share hope and idealism and a commitment to the redemption of all who commit crimes. We know that the vast majority of offenders, even violent offenders, one day are released, and should be. But there ARE, sadly, some truly dangerous people walking this earth. Scientific studies about psychopathology show us that these few cannot really be cured or trusted.

  2. abolition life imprisonment without parole(lwop) for juveniles; spanish experience‏
    Some of the most harrowing of the Law of Minors
    ————————————————– ——————————
    The entry into force of the Juvenile Penal Law 13 January 2001 marked the release of 1515 persons who had committed serious or extremely serious crimes, including murder, which was retroactively. Many associations and institutions and ideologies of all kinds called an initial review of the law, leaving the victims vulnerable and almost no punishment for criminals and murderers simply because they are minors.

    (Libertad Digital) The trial begins Monday for the murder of Sandra Palo. The body of Sandra, a young man of 22 years with mental retardation, was charred on May 17 on the road in Toledo, Leganés height. She was raped, repeatedly hit and burned alive. Police arrested four persons, three of them minors, in connection with the murder. If they apply the Law of Minors, those under 14, 16 and 17 years could be released soon.

    Remember that some cases have caused alarm for his brutality:

    “THE MURDERER OF CATANA”. Rabadán Joseph, aged 16, killed his parents and his sister with Down syndrome on April 1, 2000, with some 70 coups CATANA at home, while they were sleeping. The prosecution and defense agreed on 6 years in an internment center, therapeutic treatment, and after four years of probation. He was released after completing 6 months of interim measures, pending trial. Rabadán was sentenced on June 1, 2001 to the rehabilitation of 12 years of confinement in a treatment center for the three murders, with the legal limitations of 8 years, to be followed by another 2 probation.

    CRIME OF SAN FERNANDO Iria, 16, and Rachel, 17, wanted “to become famous” and “know what it felt to kill a person.” So one day caught Clara Garcia, 16 years, led by deception at night to a clearing in the town of Cadiz and San Fernando settled 32 stabbed and slaughtered. The judge found that both children knew what they were doing and had the capacity to discern between the licit and illicit rioja, rioja rioja moral and immoral, and that the killing was with premeditation and conspiracy. But the sentence is 8 years in an internment center, subject to review after five years and 4 probation. Were released when they turn 6 months of relief, re later.

    CRIME OF THE OLYMPIC VILLA Carlos Javier Robledo of 22 years was killed by M. Valentine 9 guests and leaving a nightclub under the guise of an argument over a jacket. He burst the duodenum, the testes and the left skull. Valentin M. andalusia missing two hours to meet 18 years, it was martial arts expert, was to kill as explained in detail above. Convicted of murder, assault and robbery, will be a maximum of 8 years in an internment center, subject to the 4, and five probation. He was released while the ruling was not final when they turn 6 months of relief.

    CRIME AND THE RAMÓN CAJAL Luisa Maria Dominguez, a lady of 64 years, was murdered at his home on December 19, 1998 by three children, 15 and 17 years to conceal a theft of £ 150,000. The sentence tells that the crime was brutal and ruthless, with a machete 60 dealt the two of them stabbed in the heart of the child 15 years after the trial had a measure of 2 years in an internment center. The other two were sentenced to 8 years and 18 months respectively in the centers.

    CRIME ALGECIRAS boy 10 years, José Luis Moreno, was found dead from asphyxiation in services offices in September 1999. They were later arrested two persons under 16 and 17 years for this murder, who confessed that he brought his head in the toilet until he drowned because he refused to do fellatio. They were released when they turn 6 months of relief. Comply with a penalty of 5 and 2 years respectively.

    CRIME Olive. The child of 11 years Antonio Carrillo, was raped and murdered in an olive grove in Spain in late September of’98. The two responsible for his murder, lower EC and A.A. who were their neighbors, sodomized and stabbed 28 dealt andalusia small. The maximum confinement that meet the Act is 8 years, and revised his sentence in half.

    CRIME low. A small 6 years Jacob Yanes, was assassinated by a young man of 17 years, MMM, which had escaped 11 times from the center of lower half. He nailed a pair of scissors 16 times and smashed his head with a stone of 20 pounds after sexually assaulted. He was sentenced to 8 years of confinement and five probation. In half of the sentence will be reviewed their situation.

    CRIME OF MINES Riotinto Sergio B.V. murdered his parents when he was 17 years. He was sentenced in 1998 to 24 years in prison, but with the entry into force of the Juvenile Law was revised and his sentence was 8 years of confinement and three probation. In half of the sentence to 4 years, the measure will be reviewed.

    CRIME OF THE PALO Manuel Lara, a neighbor of 33 years, was killed on May 14, 2000, by the lower Rafael FR, aka The Cachulo. After scolded for disturbing another couple in a bar, he threatened his victim with a pistol and a CATANA subsequently dealt him 8 stabbing that caused his fall to the ground where he finished with four stab wounds. He stated that he had been killed because “he gave the point.” He was sentenced to 8 years of confinement and five probation. He released over time measures. A half of the sentence his situation will be reviewed as the law prescribes

    According to the Platform for Reform of the Law of Minors in the past two years (2000-2001) have been arrested 139 juveniles allegedly responsible for murders, for crimes of 1963 injuries per 631 sexual assaults, robberies by 8531 with violence and other crimes to a total of 53,610 detainees. Children under 14 years, responsible for 5 murders, 125 injuries, 97 sexual assaults, 662 robberies with violence and other crimes to total at least to 3984 (data from the Internal º F) were placed under the guardianship of parents to be out of Juvenile Law.

    (Article made with information from the Platform for the Reform of the Juvenile Law)
    Libertad Digital!!!PASALO!!!