By Mary Ellen Johnson
The title says it all. A 12-year-old child accused of killing his parents, Charles and Marilyn Long, will not be charged as an adult.
According to KDVR
The prosecution and defense held a joint news conference Friday to announce that a 12-year-old boy accused of murdering his parents will not be charged as an adult.
It might seem like we're stating the obvious: But a child isn't an adult. Why should a child who is not an adult be charged as an adult? Is it any more a contradiction of justice that a child accused of killing his parents receive a maximum sentence of 7 years then it is to charge a child with a criminal act for which they can have only limited culpability?
The simple answer is "no."Children are not adults and should not be treated as adults. Period.
What is surprising to The Pendulum Foundation is that our judicial system recognizes that a 12-year-old is too young to be tried as an adult, but allows 14-year-olds, 15-year-olds, 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds to be prosecuted and to receive life sentences. Under the law, these children are just as much children as the child charged in Burlington. According to most developmental psychologists, a 14-year-old adolescent is just as much a child as a 12-year-old adolescent. Finally, most parents will recognize that a 14-year-old is no more capable of making a premeditated decision to kill someone then a 12-year-old.
So what gives? Why are we so willing to recognize the limited culpability of a 12-year-old and limit his sentence to 7 years when we will readily throw a 14-year-old in prison for the rest of his life?
The obvious answer is politics. There is no political percentage for a District Attorney in trying a 12-year-old as an adult. When a District Attorney is as likely to anger his constituency by pushing for an adult trial as he is to win their support there is suddenly and magically no cause to pursue an adult trial.
Maybe that's why the District Attorney in this case chose to remain silent when questioned by the press. Sometimes taking the 5th Amendment is the best option; its better, easier, more expedient and less divisive to say nothing at all then to own up to your own, base motives in using children for political gain.
Just a word of warning Mr. Prosecutor: Taking the 5th can be as incriminating as your testimony.