Things I am Thinking About this Morning

20 Mar

Please excuse the over-reliance on NPR.  This hippie liberal listens to it on the morning commute, and it’s what gets my brain going. 

These are the things that are swirling around in my head this morning.  Some people are “opinion” people– they hear about an issue, and they quickly develop a specific opinion or conclusion about it.  I’m more of a “questin” person–I hear about an issue, and I go on to develop a number of questions surrounding the issue, but rarely reach any firm conclusion about either the initial issue or any of the new questions I’ve developed.

1.  US Supreme Court is hearing argument today whether it is cruel and unusual punishment for juveniles (14 and under) to be kept in prison for life without parol for homicide.

I do have an opinion on this one.  For all but the most heinous homicides committed by adults, parole is an option on the table. There is no justification for completely removing that possibility for juveniles.  None.  That’s not to say that every juvenile who has committed a homicide gets parole– it’s the function of a parole board  to make that determination– but there is no basis to completely remove that possibility on the basis of the defendant’s age.

2.  Trayvon Martin was killed nearly a month ago, and this story is just now garnering media attention.

No family should have to petition law enforcement to investigate a shooting in these circumstances.  The killing is bringing Florida’s repeal of the “duty to retreat” doctrine into the spotlight, but is this a “duty to retreat” issue? There are numerous witness accounts, and none of them involve Martin attacking Zimmerman.

(Sidenote: I’ve done everything I can to avoid any internet discussion over the interpretation of Florida’s laws on self defense.  There are few things more painful than watching non-lawyers argue law over the internet.)

3.  Dharun Ravi verdict.

  I lived in college dorms. I know what crass a-holes college students are.  Does being a crass, a-hole college student give you a free pass on acting in socially unacceptable ways?  If Ravi and Clementi were 25 year old roommates, would there be this outcry of “He’s just a stupid kid!” ?   If anything, the Ravi verdict clearly communicates that the US has finally made the cultural determination that conduct like Ravi’s is not acceptable, and finally shows consequences to a bully. 

I am troubled, though, about the permanence of Ravi’s conviction.  College students do not understand how their conduct and decisions stay with them their entire lives.  Ravi may go to prison.  Ravi will have a permanent criminal record.  Ravi may get deported.  I am all for consequences for ones actions, but are these actions appropriate to hang over Ravi’s head in this way for the rest of his life?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I don’t know.

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One Response to “Things I am Thinking About this Morning”

  1. shannon March 21, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    Re: Ravi and consequences. I agree that a conviction is positive, in that it says that we as a society repudiate his actions. I have VERY little sympathy for the whole “but he’s only a kiiiiiid” argument when applied to anyone who’s old enough to vote and serve in the military. But I feel that the consequences are too heavy, especially the deportation. I know that his victim’s parents would probably argue that there’s no consequence too permanent to balance out their son’s death. And if the only purpose of the criminal justice system is to exact retribution, maybe that would be right.

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