Posted in History, Other, True Crime

Should Juvenile Offenders Be Tried As Adults?

Upsetting and somewhat graphic content to follow!

In the past century there has been an ongoing debate on how to punish children found guilty of serious crimes, such as murder. While many children are tried in court as adults and given harsh sentences befitting the crime, other children tried as juveniles are sent to juvenile prisons where their sentences are much shorter and they are released back in to society around the age of eighteen. This differential treatment for some of the same crimes has stirred much debate and even outrage.

I believe that even children should be held accountable for their actions, especially when it comes to serious crimes such as murder. Even though an article by Duaa Eldeib from the Chicago Tribune detailed how several studies have found that children’s brains are not as fully developed as an adult’s (Eldeib), many older children are more than old enough to know that murder is wrong morally and legally, along with other serious crimes such as sexual assault. These older children who certainly knew better but still committed terrible crimes should serve time either in juvenile or adult prisons. An opinions piece by Phillip Holloway from CNN reported that 200,000 children and teenagers have been tried as adults this year alone (Holloway). However, I will leave it up to the attorneys and the judge to decide if the child should be tried as an adult or as a juvenile. Part of this decision comes from the offender’s age, their crime, the severity of the crime, and if they are a future danger to society.

While I stand by this belief, I also think that courts should take in to consideration the difference between the imprisonments of juveniles versus adults. Children and teenagers sent to adult prisons are more likely to be bullied, raped, assaulted, and tormented by other inmates. They also have a higher risk of suicide than children and teenagers serving time in juvenile facilities. However, even at corrections facilities for juveniles, they still run the risk of being assaulted and abused by other inmates and staff members. Some people, though, might see this as fitting punishment if a teenager has committed a similar crime, but I do not condone rape or sexual assault. I still believe that this decision is up to the courts to decide.

I would like to finish this post off with a list of several children and teenagers found guilty of particularly infamous and brutal murders and their subsequent sentences so that you can decide for yourself how these offenders should be treated.

  • Eric Smith (13) murdered Derrick Robie (4) via strangulation, then dumped rocks on his body, and sodomized the youth with a stick. (Calin).
  • Joshua Phillips (14) murdered Maddie Clifton (8). Due to his young age he did not qualify for the death penalty and was sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole (Calin).
  • George Stinney (14) was given the death sentence after being found guilty of murdering two girls: Mary Emma Thames (8) and Betty June Binnicker (11). He was executed at the age of fourteen (Calin).
  • Lionel Tate (14) murdered Tiffany Eunick (6) via stomping on the girl, thus fracturing her skull, ribs, and forcing her brain to swell. While initially sentenced to life imprisonment, this sentence was later overturned and was realised three years later with a decade long probation sentence (Calin).
  • Barry Dale Loukaitis (14) took several students and teachers hostage and killed three people during this hostage and shooting spree at a middle school. He was given two life sentences without the possibility of parole (Calin).
  • Craig Price (15) murdered a woman and her two children during a suspected robbery, stabbing the three over ninety times. After his arrest, he admitted to the crime and even another murder two years prior (Calin).
  • Graham Young (14) poisoned his family, resulting in the death of his step-grandmother. He was sent to a maximum security hospital where he continued to poison and kill several hospital staff members and inmates. After his release, Young only continued to poison others until he was eventually caught and imprisoned once more (Calin).
  • Jesse Pomeroy (15) kidnapped and murdered Katie Curran (10) and was accused of also killing another child, a four-year-old boy. He was sentenced to life imprisonment (Cowboy).
  • Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, both only ten, beat, sexually assaulted, and murdered James Bulger (2) and then left his body on the train tracks to be run over by a train. The two were found guilty and imprisoned until the age of 18, when they were released, causing much controversy and outrage (Calin).
  • Mary Bell (11) murdered Martin Brown (4) and Brian Howe (3), strangling Howe, stabbing Brown, skinning his genitals, and carving the letter “M” on his stomach. Mary was convicted of manslaughter, but was released at the age of 23 and given a new identity (Cowboy).
  • Jordan Brown (11) shot and killed his father’s pregnant fiancé (Cowboy).
  • Curtis and Catherine Jones (12 and 13) murdered their father’s girlfriend and were tried as adults. They were released in 2015 while in their early twenties. (Axelrod).
  • Two thirteen-year-old girls murdered a fellow teenager, alleging that they committed the crime because of Internet creepypasta (scary stories shared online) character Slenderman. The two will be tried as adults. (Gomez).
  • Andrew Golden and Mitchell Johnson (both 13) killed five people and wounded several others in the Westside Middle School Massacre. The two were still tried as juveniles (Farrell).
  • Alyssa Bustamante (15) murdered Elizabeth Olten (9) and admitted that she had seriously contemplated killing her younger brothers too (Cowboy)
  • Andrew Wurst (14) killed one fellow student and wounded three people at his 8th grade dance (Farrell).
  • Shanda Sharer (12) was abducted, brutally beaten, tortured, murdered, and set on fire by four other teenage girls: Melinda Loveless (16), Laurie Tackett (17), Hope Rippey (15), and Toni Lawrence (15). Loveless and Tackett were the ringleaders, while Rippey and Lawrence were accomplices to the murder. Lawrence plead guilty to Criminal Confinement and was sentenced to a maximum of 20 years and was released on parole after serving eight years. Hope Rippey was released on parole after fourteen years. Loveless and Tackett accepted plea bargins and were sentenced to sixty years, however the two could possibly be released in 2020 (Jones).
  • Kipland Kinkel shot and killed two students, wounding eight others, at his school. Several hours earlier he had murdered both of his parents (Cowboy).
  • Cindy Collier and Shirley Wolf (14) brutally murdered a woman after she let the two girls in to her home for tea. Both girls admitted they enjoyed the act and were eager to kill again (Cowboy).
  • Christian Fernandez (12) killed his younger half-brother who was only an infant at the time (Cowboy).
  • Amarjeet Sada (8) was accused of murdering three babies, two of which were his own cousins (Cowboy).
  • Terilynn Wagner murdered nine people before the age of fourteen. She was convicted of several murders, but was realised at the age of eighteen, having served less than four years in prison (Whitney).

Given that this is a touchy subject, I’d love to hear everyone’s opinions in the comments.


Sources

Axelrod, Tal. “Youngest Children Ever to Be Tried as Adults for 1st-Degree Murder to Be Released Soon.” ABC News. 23, July 2015. Web.

Calin, Mirian. “Top 10 Youngest Killers.” Listverse. 14, May 2011.

Cowboy. “20 of the World’s Youngest Murderers.” Pop Crunch. 15, June 2012.

Eldeib, Duaa. “Young Killers Who Stay in Juvenile Court Take Vastly Different Paths.” Chicago Tribune. 12, June 2015.

Farrell, Nancy. “10 Youngest Murderers in History.” Criminal Justice Degrees Guide. 2016.

Gomez, Dayana Morales. “Two 13-Year-Old Girls Are Being Tried As Adults. Here’s Why That Matters.” Huffington Post. 12, August 2016.

Holloway, Phillip. “Should 11-year-olds Be Charged With Adult Crimes?” CNN. 14, October 2015.

Jones, Aphrodite. Cruel Sacrifice. Kensington Books. 1994.

Whitney, Heather. “Victims of Terilynn Wagner.” Serial Killers Podcast. 22, January 2011.

Posted in Other, Uncategorized

Art from “A” to “Xenotransplantation”

William Osler once said: “Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability.” He was clearly inspired by a quote from Philipus Aureolus Paracelsus: “Medicine is not merely a science but an art. The character of the physician may act more powerfully upon the patient than the drugs employed.” An anonymous reporter took this one step further and said: “Medicine is an art, not a science.”

Transplanting organs is an art unto itself, even if it does heavily rely on science. The doctor must be as skilled as a artist, with each cut the surgeon makes as carefully planned as the brushes and strokes of a master painter. Xenotransplantation takes this art form to a new level.

Xenotransplantation involves transplanting one animal’s organ into another animal’s body. This is even possible for humans, a prospect that has stirred up much controversy over the years ever since 1984 when an infant received a heart transplant from a baboon, prompting a speculative article from The New York Times debating the use of xenotransplantaion. (Altman). While the baby in that case died a few days after the surgery, the idea of xenotransplantation has held a large amount of appeal to scientists and doctors alike.

According to a recent article by Amy Dockser Marcus in The Wall Street Journal, “there are more than 120,000 people in the U.S. waiting for an organ transplant,” with not nearly enough donors and useable organs to save each person (Marcus). While new developments have opened up in terms of 3-D printing and how it could possibly create useable organs for transplants, there is another option: xenotransplantation. Scientists have found that pigs are a likely source for these transplants. Marcus relates: “Pigs are a particularly promising source of organs. They produce big litters. Organs such as the kidney and liver are similar in size to those of humans” (Marcus).

In fact, the xenotransplantation is not a new process. The Guardian’s Vanessa Heggie wrote about how it first began in the 19th century and that an Irish surgeon, known simply as Doctor Bigger, while being held captive by the Bedouin, discovered how to successfully transplant the cornea of a wild deer into a blind gazelle. This idea was later applied to human transplants. She also revealed that in 1838, “Dr. Richard Kissam of New York transplanted the cornea of a 6-month old pig into a young man, who temporarily regained his sight” (Heggie). Then, “by 1885 five attempts had been made to transplant a whole eye from an animal into a human face. Four of those attempts used dog eyes, but the only initially successful one, by Dr HW Bradford of Boston, used a rabbit’s eye” (Heggie). In fact, Scientists and doctors have been transplanting animal blood into humans since the 17th century (Heggie).

While using a pig’s organs for xenotransplantation should work in theory, xenotransplantations are not always successful, especially not for long periods of time. The human immune system will attack any alien substances it finds, including that of the transplanted organ via a pig donor. There is also the issue of the transplant causing infections and undetected viruses moved from the pig to a human during the transplant.

To rectify this, scientists have since had to re-write some of the pig’s genetic code before the transplantation so that the human body will accept the organ. However, in the past it has taken incredibly long periods of time just to change one aspect of the pig’s genetic code. Recently though a group of scientists from Harvard University have created a new gene-editing system, Crispr-Cas9, which can change multiple aspects at once, working faster and more efficiently than ever before. This makes xenotransplantation all the more likely in the foreseeable future.

This takes us back to the aforementioned quotes comparing medicine to art and science, with one anonymous reporter going as far as to say that medicine is an art form, not a scientific one. The reasoning for this can be surmised from the fact that every patient and surgeon, physician, and doctor are different. Since no two are fully alike, you cannot completely replicate each transplant and surgery beat for beat, the way a scientific method should let you. Since the circumstances are different each time, the doctors involved must adapt to each new case with the same light-on-their feet attitude an artist has when using a new canvas or painting a new subject. Since we have determined that each case is different and cannot completely rely on science, but also the skill of the doctor, let’s think about how transplants, like medicine, is another art form. When we hear the word “art” we tend to think of paintings and sculptures. Are not physicians and surgeons similar to sculptures in some ways? They are not sculptures of marble or clay, but of real human flesh and blood. Perhaps that makes their “art” all the more masterful.

Still, we cannot ignore the importance of science when it comes to transplants, medicines, and anything else a doctor, physician, or surgeon would come across. Science is the whole reason transplants exist and can work. In conclusion, I believe that transplants, especially xenotransplants, are started by science, but completed through art. It all depends on the hands and strokes of the artist.


Works Cited

Altman, Lawrence. “Baby Fae, Who Received a Heart From Baboon, Dies After 20 Days.” The New York Times. 16, Nov 1984.

Heggie, Vanessa. “Human-pig chimeras and the history of transplanting from animals.” The Guardian. 7 June 2016.

Marcus, Amy Dockser. “Genetically Modified Pigs Could Ease Organ Shortage.” The Wall Street Journal. 1, Dec 2016.