How long should we punish someone for a crime committed when they were young? How long should we punish someone who's only crime was trying to protect his friends after a crime was committed and for staying loyal to his friends? How long is enough? He didn't kill anyone, didn't harm anyone, didn't rob anyone but still received a 66 year sentence via plea agreement. The authorities-that-be intimidated my son, left him locked and isolated in county jail, threatened him and even tried bribing inmates to give false testimony against him (part of his case file). So how long is enough?
Today is Jonny's birthday. He turns 31 years old. He went to jail when he was 17. Another year in prison, another year of missed opportunities and another year apart. Another year of advocating, of listening to reports, reading appellate rulings and trying to convince legislators to do the right thing...the constitutionally correct thing, the morally correct thing. Why has nothing changed? IT'S POLITICAL. It's not about right or wrong it is about politics, power and position. It's about the courage to admit that our current juvenile justice policies are illegal and they have failed.
It is not only our state that has done little to correct juvenile justice policies but the nation as a whole. It has been two years since the Supreme Court Ruling on Miller/Jackson and 4 years for Graham. Little change, little progress and lots of talk. The Sentencing Project just released a report outlining the changes that have been made since these rulings. There are states that have made legislative changes but most of those are being challenged because they do not apply the Supreme Court Rulings retroactively and they STILL support mandatory (versus discretionary) sentences. You can read their report below.
Life goes on. Jonny has work as a commissioned artist and painter at his facility. He is extremely fit and strong. He is married. Yes he found someone who not only loves him for his kindness, sense of humor, loyalty and his character but also wanted to commit to him for life. She is a bright, well educated, beautiful woman who never imagined she would find her prince in prison. Some day may they experience the day to day of marriage.
But today? Today my son turns 31 in prison.......and we hope for next year to be the year that we see change. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUDDY! WE LOVE YOU!
Bonnie Young advocates for juvenile justice reform, prison reform and criminal justice reform. Seeking justice, restoration, redemption and stronger communities. Available to present and speak to your religious organization, church, college or organizations. Please contact us for details and information.