This will bring tears to your eyes. It's a voice mail recording of a call from a motorist who witnessed a fender bender and the subsequent kerfuffle. Make sure your sound is turned on.
Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the tip.
The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 in Roper v. Simmons that it is cruel and unusual punishment to execute people for murders committed before they turned 18. They maintain that because many foreign nations don't execute those under 18 and because many states have banned the practice that therefore it is "cruel and unusual."
For the most part, however, the reasoning of the Court is based on precedents (e.g. Atkins, 2002) which found that the diminished capacity of juveniles is similar to that of the mentally retarded. Like mentally retarded criminals, juveniles lack a fully-developed sense of right and wrong and therefore are not as responsible for their crimes as adults and should not be subject to capital punishment, or so the argument went:
Justice Scalia's dissent eloquently filets the majority's flimsy rationale for their decision. He writes, for instance, that:
There are other flaws in the Court's ruling, as well. Among them, it sets a precedent for lawyers whose adult clients have committed murder that would enable them to escape the death penalty simply by showing that the client didn't really understand that murder is wrong. The lawyer could argue that his client was perhaps unduly influenced by the Nietzschean plea to transcend the concepts of good and evil, or believed that some murders are not bad acts, or that had the emotional maturity of a teenager, etc. It is, after all, not his age which exculpates the juvenile but the emotional and rational disabilities the majority sees as inherent in his age. But these "disabilities" are not unique to teenagers. By what logic, then, will the Court be able to deny to others the protection those "disabilities" confer on juveniles?
The decision also establishes the premise for effectively banning any long-term punishment for juvenile killers. If they should not receive the same penalty as would an adult what justification is there then for life sentences? If they're just kids, why not simply get them counseling and keep them out of prison altogether? The Court's decision, written by Justice Kennedy, says this:
The above, of course, makes it sound as if these juvenile murderers are just a bunch of scamps out soaping car windows. In fact, they are often hardened, cruel savages. Here's the account of Mr. Simmons' crime:
I wonder if the victim's family feels that this young man "has a greater claim than adults to be forgiven for failing to escape negative influences in [his] whole environment." I wonder if the family is concerned about the awful "reality that juveniles still struggle to define their identity" or if they much care that Mr. Simmons might not be "irredeemably depraved." I wonder about the fear of the poor woman who probably knew she was about to die in this completely senseless act of unspeakable barbarism and cruelty. I also wonder if Justice Kennedy and the rest of the majority would have written these words and decided as they did if that had been their wife or daughter who was thrown off the bridge. Somebody should ask them.