No matter your age, the time must fit the crime - 343 responses

Sep 02, 2014

There are few topics that engender as much heated discussion than what constitutes the appropriate punishment for serious crimes, especially murder. While some argue for the death penalty in such cases, others claim life without parole is not only adequate, but eminently more ethical. In cases that involve juveniles, however, the solution may seem less clear given research into the adolescent brain and impulse control, although opinions expressed by Live Free or Die Alliance (LFDA) Facebook members suggest otherwise.

“If they commit the crime, they are old enough to serve the time,” said one woman, whose sentiments were shared by many in response to the question, “Do you agree or disagree with the recent NH Supreme Court decision that mandatory life-sentences for NH juveniles are cruel and unusual punishment?” The decision retroactively applied a 2012 US Supreme Court ruling in the cases of Robert Dingman, Eduardo Lopez, Robert Tulloch, and Michael Soto, each of whom committed murders in NH when they were under 18. In answering the question, 90 percent of respondents who directly answered the question disagreed with the decision, while just 10 percent expressed their support. Out of all respondents, 23 percent elected to discuss the subject in broader terms. In total, the LFDA received 343 citizen responses, including specific comments from 126 individuals supported by 218 concurrences.

In addition to many in the majority who indicated the punishment should fit the crime, others claimed juveniles are old enough to distinguish right from wrong, which was a point against which several of the minority opinion argued. “They're not yet fully developed emotionally and intellectually,” countered one respondent, “yet we try them as adults, which they are not.”

For those unable to directly answer the question, several suggested there is no easy solution. “As with literally everything, it should be a case by case basis,” remarked one respondent. “There is no such thing as black and white—there is just too much gray in the middle.”

Click here to see the full Facebook discussion of this question.

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