http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/theslant/blog/2009/10/crime_was_horrific_but_is_life.html

Crime was horrific, but is life without parole justified?

dunbarvillage.jpgBy Kimberly Corteau

My heart goes out to the mother and son for the horrific crime that took place in Dunbar Village in Palm Beach County. I know that this will forever haunt them, and they will never fully recover.

But as horrific as the crime was, how do we justify sending kids to die in prison without the possibility of parole – for a crime short of murder?

At least one teen was born as a drug addict, another repeated first grade at least three times, and another repeated sixth grade three times. There are dozens of examples of visible physical and mental abuse throughout their young lives – visible to the community as well as the school system. One child often missed school because he was too injured to attend. The list goes on.

At what point does the community share in the responsibility and address this at its core? These are young human lives that never stood a chance. No genuine helping hand. How does our school system allow elementary-aged children to repeat grades three times? Is there no Plan B?

Judge Krista Marx is quoted as saying she sympathized with the defendants’ difficult lives, including poverty, fatherlessness and drug addiction, but none of those things explained their lack of a moral code.

What more could it possibly take to explain their lack of moral code?

The penalty for this crime should be severe, but should we allow children to live and die in prison without an attempt at rehabilitation or a chance to somehow right their wrong?

We should question why Florida leads the nation in sending teenagers to prison for life with no possible parole for crimes such as burglary, assault or rape.

And in response to the author who recently expressed that “community service” was a distraction from her teenage son’s schoolwork, be thankful that you live in area where community involvement is expected. These are life lessons that will never be experienced through textbooks. He is fortunate to be given that chance.

Kimberly Courteau lives in Boca Raton, Fla.