Should society be locking away children as young as 12 away for life?
In a case that shocked the nation, a 12 year old boy, Cristian Fernandez who killed his 2 year old younger brother by continuously punched his brother before eventually died a violent and merciless death could be sent away for life if the prosecution gets its way. At the heart of the matter- is such punishment warranted, especially when it involves a minor as young as 12 years old?
To date, he has been charged as an adult, but one wonders what qualifies a 12 year old to be charged as an adult, when he is clearly not one, unless one deems the severity of the crime necessitating such an imposition?
According to prosecutors they decided to go ahead and charge the child as an adult given his violent history. It has been said that he had previously assaulted his brother and broken his leg.
In their view, keeping the young boy away from society will ensure that no other person is ever put at risk again by the maladjusted 12 year old.
At this juncture, this author wonders quite the opposite- if by keeping the boy forever behind bars wont this only ensure that he remains hostile and deeply troubled and prone to violence in perpetuity? It is after all something that is not done in legitimate societies- when it can be argued that the young boy is still too immature to fully understand the consequences of his actions. Even if society (and this author included) fully condemn his actions.
One ought to wonder to what degree his parents harbor responsibility (the mother, Biannela Susana, in fact has been charged with negligent homicide), after all it is claimed had the mother immediately taken the younger boy to hospital rather than waiting two hours his life may have been saved. One also has to ask what the culture at home was and how exactly a 12 year old boy arrives at the idea of using brute lethal force? It could also be a situation that the child had deep emotional problems that were left unattended to (as is so often the case in so many households) or a situation were the child was never discouraged to behave the way he did because of a lack of apathy at home or a lack of discipline.
One also has to wonder if on some level the boy’s violent behavior towards his brother was a metaphor for how he really felt about his parents or the situation at home, (which is to say he exacted his hostility or sense of disempowerment through proxy) or simply a case of extreme fear of abandonment now that there was a new member in the household? After all, as humans, we sometimes resort to ways of expressing ourselves that are not necessarily clearly understood to the naked eye.
Certainly this young boy needs deep counseling, more than he needs to be reprimanded, which is no to say he oughtn’t be reprimanded. But at a base level, the above case forces us to wonder- what do we really mean when we incarcerate individuals? Do we do it to affect punishment or to rehabilitate said individual so they may one day return to society? Or a combination of both?
Should authorities seriously doubt their ability to reform this child that they have to throw away the keys- in essence ensuring two lives are lost and ruined? Is this what we mean by punishment and rehabilitation? Or is this just a cynical ploy to assert that one is tough on crime at the expense of an individual, who at 12 years old can not be deemed to be in full control of his actions.
As an aside, one also has to wonder if the authorities would be seeking a life sentence if the 12 year old wasn’t a minority, as he obviously is but a member of a well to do caucasian family? Even if such thoughts are highly unpalatable and risk sensationalizing the situation at hand.
One has to wonder how our society will continue to migrate- after all violence begets violence.
Whoever wrote this should be banned for life as a journalist. This article has some of the worst grammar I’ve ever read.
This child clearly has emotional and possibly other mental issues. Why the hell would they go after this kid as an adult when he is CLEARLY a child that needs treatment?
While I understand the author’s initial sentiment, I have to completely disagree. The simple fact is that this young person brutally assaulted a completely helpless human being–twice. The second time resulted in his death. This is clearly not a case of an underdeveloped ability to fully understand the consequences of beating a toddler, it’s a horrifying example of a level of psychopathy that represents a clear and horrific danger to anyone unlucky and helpless enough to be subjected to this young person’s impulses.
Rehabilitation versus punishment in this case is a false dichotomy; protection from demonstrable psychosis–and the violent, senseless death that it has caused in this case–is a tremendously important consideration. Google Craig Price for a terrible example of the destructive potential that even young people can possess.
The prosecutor in this case is a total mean-spirited, headline-grabbing jerk. But then, the law and the system in Florida create these types of monsters – and I am not referring to the child. Note how she doth protest too much about nine years not being enough to rehabilitate the child. REALLY? That is a huge prison sentence to a child, where days run like years. Now he is in a completely inappropriate facility where he will be at constant risk of sexual and physical abuse from older youths – some 17 years old and already convicted of sex-based crimes.
This charge and the jail time are meant to terrorize him and his underpaid public defenders into accepting an absurd plea that will make him an adult felony offender with no hope for the future.
Despite what some prosecutors tell you, this case is EXACTLY why the juvenile system was created. Children have killed since antiquity and children killing younger siblings is as old as grass. It’s just that these days, prosecutors need to go after VERY young children to get the headlines that they need to create their political career. Note what this wretch is doing here — “LOOK AT ME – I AM TOUGH ON CRIME BUT REALLY VERY COMPASSIONATE!!!!! OH POOR ME – I HAVE TO DO A VICIOUS, ABUSIVE THING AND IT ISN’T MY FAULT THAT OUR SYSTEM CAN’T HANDLE A CHILD OF THIS NATURE IN NINE LONG YEARS!!!!!”
Never mind that in almost any state, he would have been handled in juvenile court as a manslaughter case – which is really what this is. It is only a trick of Florida law that this child’s actions are being considered “murder” instead of the appropriate manslaughter charge. Under their system, in a move meant to protect children from adults, any death resulting from an attempt to hurt a child is considered murder, regardless of the offender’s ability to form intent. Sure, older kids know that they can hurt younger kids, but do they understand that they can cause death? Does a 12 year old have the requisite understanding of the nature and consequences of his actions here?
Stuff and nonsense. This child is NOT being tried as an adult to help society – because all studies indicate that when children are put into the adult system, they will surely reoffend and come out worse. Just look at the infamous Florida case of the 12 year old “wrestler murderer” from 15 years ago. That boy, despite never showing an inclination toward armed robbery, became one after his years in the Florida system. And what about Alex King – who was used by a pedophile to murder his Dad and convicted for the killing committed at age 12? He was so warped by the incident that during a minor fender-bender, he left the scene terrified of the arrival of the authorities, thus compounding his problems and sits in jail now for violating his probabtion on a minor fender-bender, wasting Florida tax dollars.
These cases take young kids with very serious problems and make the young children notorious, ending any hope whatsoever for rehabilitation. Plastering their faces on news outlets and the internet nationwide adds to the brutal abuse already suffered by this child. There is enough blame to go around here – when a child is born to a 12 year old rape victim, that child needs to be removed – period. There is no way that the “parent” can guarantee his safety and the parent’s parent (in this case a crack mamma) is obviously incapable of guranteeing his safety. He should have been put up for adoption at birth. A child of 12 cannot make a decision to raise a child. That’s insane. And the point was proven by his neglect and abuse through the years.
And BTW – don’t be too sure that Mom had nothing to do with beating the baby. Surely she beat him…
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