Friday, May 11, 2012
Liliana Segura | May 9, 2012
From the specific to the general. For as long as I can recall I have been against the death penalty and mandatory sentencing. As skeptical as I am about law enforcement, the justice system and how easily those with power (including society at large) can abuse that power I have not spent too much time paying attention to this issue. I do believe judges and the courts are there to “mitigate”. The last time or last manifestation I recall “was when we lived in California” and three strikes and you are back in a California prison for minor violations, even of parole.
Prisons for profit add to my concerns for abuse (hopefully not a problem in Wisconsin, where we live now – but given the political climate created by our current Governor – who knows).
Trina's life, experience, story is a tragedy. The larger tragedy is how quickly we can create travesty and how long it may take to undo it.
Today, Trina is one of approximately 470 prisoners in Pennsylvania serving life without parole for crimes they committed as teenagers. In thirty-five years the state has gone from holding a small handful of juvenile lifers with no chance at release to holding the highest number in the country. Nationwide, the number stands at around 2,589; of these, only a small fraction—seventy-nine—were sentenced for crimes committed when they were 14 or younger. Eighteen are in Pennsylvania.
… In March the Sentencing Project released the results of the first national survey of prisoners sentenced to life without parole as a juvenile. Its scope was significant: 1,579 prisoners, or about 60 percent of the total population, had responded. Of those prisoners, 79 percent reported “witnessing violence in their homes.” Almost half “experienced physical abuse, including 79.5% of girls.” Poverty, neglect and trauma were consistent themes.
Why am I not surprised that minorities, poverty, neglect and trauma all correlate with “life w/o parole”.
_______________Other Observations _____________
As I read this I left the video for last but thought while reading it that a few photographs would have helped with “generalizing the theme” and enhance the broader social causality.
As I then watched the video I was impressed that it enhanced and condensed the issues efficiently … I had expected it to be more repetitive and perhaps redundant.
I was also struck by how simple it was to make (the video) … perhaps the art was in the editing since I do not know how the interviewing went. To me the reporting, video and absent photographs really make up the whole. I know the people involved will not just drop this like an egg on the sidewalk but …
I will be watching for the Supreme Court decision!