This post is in response to a comment on my earlier post The Irony is Killing US: When to Treat Juveniles as Adults. It was written by an inside student after I shared that blog post – and the comments – with a couple of men in my Inside-Out class at the state penitentiary who were convicted as juveniles (they do not have internet access, so I shared a paper printout and was given a handwritten response). These are his words:
“People are versatile.” I pulled this from what was written in the previous comment. Absolutely, I agree. Beyond that, and in support of that very idea is that “everyone is different,” as no two people or situations are the same. Do I believe that there are some juveniles who once imprisoned should at no point thereafter be released? Yes, I do believe that, however, not based solely on that act which first put them in prison. To say that any choice made as a juvenile discounts one’s ability to grow, learn, change, and become a productive member of society…for the rest of their life! No, not now and not ever. One can change at any stage in life, for better or worse, we as humans are continually going through changes from the moment we are conceived to the moment we pass from life to death, this is simply in our nature. I don’t believe it is just in any way, shape or form to label a juvenile as “scum” that cannot ever change and therefore be sentenced to “Life in Prison” when at that age there remains such an incredible amount of potential for both growth and change. It does no harm to allow someone hope; condemning an individual, especially a juvenile, closes doors we as a society have no right to close. Can anyone know the future? No matter what position of authority is held, I’ll not be convinced that the act of a minor guarantee the outcome of their future based on decisions made as a juvenile.
the photo is from OSU’s Inside-Out tumblr page: We Are the 1 in 100