Module 3 discussion – is the juvenile justice system just?



This discussion explores a real-life case in the juvenile justice system.


ABC 7 News Denver posted the following article on their website. I have redacted portions of the article.

1. After reading this article answer the question:

  • Is the juvenile justice system “just?”


Judge Sentences Boy For Killing Parents, Attacking Siblings

Plea Bargain Puts Child In Custody For 7-9 Years

Posted: 09/28/2011

A judge on Wednesday sentenced a child accused of killing his parents and attacking two of his siblings to seven to nine years in custody.
The boy, 13, was an 83-pound 12-year-old at the time of the attacks in his hometown of Burlington.

He hasn’t grown much since then. In court on Wednesday, where he pleaded guilty to killing his parents, the boy looked really young, sorry and small, appearing more similar to a fourth-grader than a seventh grader, said 7NEWS Reporter Tyler Lopez, who was in the packed courtroom with 40 family members and friends.

The boy will be about 20 years old when he is out of juvenile prison.

Some of his family say they still don’t know if they will be able to forgive him by then.

The Long family showed up at the sentencing at Kit Carson County Courthouse, still trying to comprehend why the boy would shoot his parents with a .357 Magnum and slit his 5-year-old sister’s neck and shoot his 9-year-old brother.

“The little girl’s going to be 13 when he gets out of prison. And I wonder what it’s going to do to her,” said Wally Long, the boy’s uncle.

In August, prosecutors charged the boy as a juvenile. District Attorney Bob Watson said if the boy agreed to plead guilty to all counts and accept the maximum possible sentence in the juvenile court, he would not try the boy as an adult.

Under the plea deal, the boy will spend at least five years in a juvenile detention center. If the boy doesn’t take his rehabilitation seriously in the youth corrections program, Watson said managers there could send him to state prison for his final two years, once he turns 18.

Also, if corrections officials don’t feel the boy is ready to re-enter society after his seven-year sentence, at the age of 20, they could ask a judge to add another two years to his stay, Watson said, bringing the total number of years possibly served under this deal to nine.

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