Yesterday we posted an article concerning the need for movement towards changing criminal justice policies for juveniles. There were many who commented on the NYT article that supported the need for changes in charging and sentencing juveniles that would be more age appropriate and would focus on rehabilitation, reform and the future release of these errant juveniles.
Many would say that the reform of juvenile criminal justice practices would be against the wishes of victims advocates and that the families of victims should be the greatest concern. First, we must remember that the reason for court systems and judges is to insure that every accused person is treated fairly and remove vengeance from the hand of the wronged party. This is for two reasons. The first is to protect the person who has been wronged from committing a crime themselves out of pain and anger. The second is to insure that the best interest of the community is served, the errant individual is caused to repay for the harm done.
In my years as a juvenile justice advocate I have come in contact with very angry victims advocates, however, they are the minority. Most would prefer to be able to grieve their loss and learn how to move on with their lives, putting the pieces back together. It is generally not the victim that desires to be drawn back into court for every appeal, sentence modification or parole hearing, it is the district attorney's that use the suffering of victims to sway the opinions of the courts. I have wittnessed it time and again.
Only in recent years, as victims have felt compelled and protected have they begun to speak about the road to forgiveness. It is a road. All of us who have lost a significant relationship, gone through the death of a family member, lost a job, a child or a home know that grief is a process, a process that begins with anger and disbelief. The stories of the women and families who have forgiven others for taking the life of a child or a son or daughter are amazing people. There are many stories that have ended in unlikely frienships. To get a glimpse of this please read Unlikely Advocates For Teen Killers.
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