“On February 6, 2013, the UT San Diego electronic edition reported that a teenager was arrested for arson and vandalism of a Day-Care Center, causing about $70,000 in damages. The suspect was shortly thereafter booked into Juvenile Hall.

The reporter did not reveal whether she contacted the parents, the school and/or any friends of the boy to ascertain whether he was having any challenges in school, with his peers and/or home environment. It would not be unusual for there to have been previous signs and/or indications that therapeutic intervention was necessary and appropriate. What motivated this 14-year old to do these types of crimes is however unclear, but the boy admitted to the charges.

Many therapists and forensic experts have opined that often individuals with rage and aggression also have a lack of impulse control, and these crimes are their way of crying out for help so their life can be different. Unlike others in society, they have no healthy way to express their overwhelming anger. Sadly, these types of crimes often progress beyond significant property damage cases but can lead to serious injury and even death.

If the family cannot afford private counsel, the Judge will appoint a Deputy Public Defender to represent the boy. The goal is rehabilitation and not just punishment and to deter others from committing crime. The strategy of defense counsel will initially be to perform a thorough investigation as well as to obtain a forensic evaluation.”

–Sam Spital

Bill offers juvenile lifers 2nd chance (SAM SPITAL)

The Bill is premised on the theory anyone under age 18 (except those convicted of torture or the killing of a law enforcement officer) can obtain what amounts to a “get out of prison card” because juveniles should not be incarcerated for life without parole if they can show rehabilitation. But, it is a slippery slope and eventually the legislature may say the same for adults.

Why keep anyone in prison after 25 years?

Then, should we ask the same question after a convicted felon has spent 20 years in prison?

Is there a sufficient deterrence for rape, robbery, murder, kidnapping and other heinous crimes since there no longer would be life sentences?

What about the adult population in prisons that are over 65, should they be incarcerated any longer?

There are complex issues on all sides of the equation, but interestingly no Republicans supported the Bill. Do these Assembly persons know something about dangerous felons and the theory and purpose of crime?

Perhaps the narrative should be changed and we should give our criminal trial judges more discretion in imposing sentences since they have witnessed the facts of a crime and are a better resource.

The debate continues.

Sam Spital, Criminal Defense Lawyer

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