Life in Prison, at 16.

10 Feb

An interesting/troubling article has been traveling the Twitter/Facebook circuit today – click here:  Sarah Kruzan.

“In all the years Sarah Kruzan was being abused, tortured, manhandled, and molested, it’s hard to imagine no one who mattered was unaware. But it also has to do with ‘public attitudes,’ as PBS reported last year in a short exposé, Fighting Child Prostitution. Using the Atlanta prostitution market as a case study, it revealed several instances where teenage prostitutes were ‘going to jail while their pimps and johns ran free.’ Alesia Adams, a renowned social worker on issues around sexual exploitation, explained: ‘Very few people see these children as victims. And they don’t understand the … victimization of this child and the dynamics of what has happened to her.'”

reminds me… “no one mourns wounds/they refuse to see./there are no eulogies/for those who never breathed…”

Thirteen years ago, Sarah Kruzan was sentenced to life in prison at the age of 16.  She committed murder.  Undeniably wrong, maybe even regardless of the details involved in the murder.  But in my opinion, the “details” illuminate several critical issues – some of which the article speaks to).   To start, her victim also happened to be her pimp at the time, a man who raped her when she was 13.  She was also raised by an abusive mother, who was addicted to drugs (and who probably has her own telling history).  The circumstances surrounding the crime itself – history, background, mental stability and emotional health – aren’t mere details.  While they do not change the fact that a life was taken, if we truly care about human lives, rehabilitation and “justice,” aren’t these serious considerations?  We might take it for granted, but reading this article certainly made me ask the question, when is it ever just to sentence any 16 year-old to life in prison?

And I have other questions…  Like, where does “justice” intersect with concerns about the offender’s well-being – especially with someone like Sarah who probably does not pose a threat to society, as her infraction was arguably directed toward one man?  (Isn’t part of the point of “justice” to ensure our well-being, or what is its point?)  And doesn’t it matter that Sarah’s case exists as part of broader concerns, which include child abuse, child prostitution, and rape?  How does “the law” justify ignoring (or understating) these huge issues while considering each case? If Sarah’s sentence was determined in observation of law, and possibly to protect others in the world who the judge believed Sarah’s freedom threatens, who protects Sarah?  Shouldn’t “justice” care that Sarah is a victim too?

I’ll let you all make up your own minds, I’ve probably said too much already.  You can read the article by clicking here:  Sarah Kruzan.

There are some other strong articles (like this one:  “Inchoate Justice“).

And I’ve been browsing the web, while there is a general spirit of disagreement with Sarah’s sentence, people are approaching her case from varying perspectives.  Here are a few:  how having/not having a father impacts the lives of women and young girls,  teen trafficking, and this article goes into greater detail and comes from a law student’s perspective (reminiscent of a criminal justice lawyer, lol).

It is also important to note that the National Center for Youth Law is presently working with Human Rights Watch (HRW) to ban life without parole for juveniles in California.

This PBS article is a great instructional tool, lol – and is also useful for understanding the issue across the entire United States:  “When kids get life.


One Response to “Life in Prison, at 16.”

  1. jingle February 11, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    an award 4 u,
    u have to find 12 blogs u like and share it…

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