Recidivism and the Teenager

Some careful thoughts from The New Yorker today as they compare the cases of former Governor Bob McDonnell — who received 11 two-year sentences to be served concurrently for corruption — and the strange case of Davion Blount:

His two co-defendants (both eighteen years old) pleaded guilty. Prosecutors offered Blount a plea that would carry a mandated term of at least eighteen years; if he didn’t take it, they said, they would bring additional charges. To a seventeen-year-old, eighteen years in jail seemed interminable. According to the Virginian-Pilot’s Louis Hansen, “Blount was stubborn. He thought he was innocent of some charges. He was willing to fight.”

Blount lost. He had faced fifty-one felonies-including illegal use of a firearm, robbery, and abduction. The jury found him guilty on forty-nine of them. At the sentencing, in March 2008, the judge said the gun crimes, be it being arrested for owning a gun illegally or more serious charges, carried fixed punishments in Virginia, so his sentence for the weapons charge came to a hundred and eighteen years. On top of that, because the crime involved robbing three juveniles at gunpoint, the judge added six life sentences. The Virginian-Pilot wrote that the sentence “may be the harshest in America for a teen who didn’t commit murder.”

It is an odd fact that in Virginia, we spend more on corrections than we do on education. Perhaps it’s time to evaluate what an overhaul in our justice system might look like in a 21st century environment?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.