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John Gibson indignant over Supreme Court ruling on minors

Reported by Chrish - March 2, 2005

John Gibson, on 3/1/05 Big Story, is not happy that dozens of people on death row will now "only" spend the rest of their lives in prison. The SCotUS ruling today that forbids the death penalty for criminals under the legal age of 18 has John's punitive pants in a bunch.

Dean Johnson, Criminal Defense Attorney and former prosecutor, told us the SCotUS revisited the issue in light of new medical findings. Today's decision was backed by the American Bar Association, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychiatric Association, all of whom filed amicus briefs in the case.

Gibson postulates that "another Columbine happens. Klebold and Harris are 17, and they get a pass?"

Dean answers that no, they go to prison for life without chance of parole, hardly a pass.

This is not harsh enough for Gibson, even when explained by Dean that a child of 16 or 17 is not fully developed and cannot be held to the highest levels of moral culpability necessary to impose the death penalty. Gibson asks "you call a 17-year-old a child?"

Gibson counters that we send 18-year-olds to Iraq to kill, and we trust them to have the judgment to kill the "right" Iraqis.

Dean points out that 17-year olds are not allowed to drink or vote and may have their driving licenses restricted. The age for being treated as an adult in criminal courts is 18. The SC has "drawn a bright line" between a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old, and it is a significant legal difference, according to Dean.

Gibson, whose tone throughout has been indignant, asks why there is a line - some kids are responsible at 12, 13, and others are not even beyond 18. Dean agrees but says that since these things can't be decided on a case by case basis, a line has to be drawn and the SC has drawn it at 18. They join 31 other legislatures and almost all other countries in the world, with the exceptions of Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and China.

Comment: Maybe if the SC overturns Roe v. Wade we can do away with "birthdays" and celebrate "fertilization days" or "implantation days", and then we can kill those bad kids that are currently measured as 17 years 3 months old, OK John? Jeeeez.

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