Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Problem with Justice

Right after Lee Boyd Malvo was captured in the Washington Metropolitan sniper case, Howling Latina wrote letters to editors decrying the circumstances which allowed a youth to be lost in the social system that was supposed to protect him.

And allowed to traipse across the country with a maniacal killer.

At the time, news stories revealed that Malvo was not attending school and had been living at homeless shelters. No local, state or federal government cared enough to delve into Malvo's despicable life condition.

And if the commonwealth of Virginia had had its druthers, and the Supreme Court had not inconveniently weighed in against executing minors, and the verdict headed by my Baptist brethren had not provided mercy, Malvo would now be sitting in prison waiting to be executed, just like Justin Wolfe, who was only 19-years old when he was charged in the death of his friend, a person shot and killed not by Justin, but the state nonetheless insisted he had to die in order for justice to be served.

Last Thursday, the Washington Post had a mesmerizing story about "the chilling alchemy...between...two killers...father figure and pliant protégé." Through psychological contortions and control, the Court saw an initial defiant young lion reduced to courtly submissive lamb.

Read what the reporter writes:

This was like watching one of those educational films about child abuse. Muhammad was the classic abusive father, switching from harsh, pedantic disciplinarian to calm, sweet, loving friend. Though it was sickening to watch, you could see Malvo involuntarily softening each time Muhammad changed gears.


With each question, both men's voices grew softer. The anger seemed to lift from Malvo. He slouched, and his head slumped. The defiant lip disappeared, and Malvo began to answer in a child's voice...


The theater on view in Rockville was breathtaking, an advanced course in the dynamics of the criminal mind. Just don't pretend it's about justice. They took care of that in Virginia already.

So next time any person argues for the ultimate punishment in the case of a young person, just remember the story of Lee Boyd Malvo who turned from a good natured and obedient boy "during his childhood and adolescence -- before he met John Allen Muhammad" into a cold-blooded killer after he came under Muhammad's influence.

In other words, when you are a youth, your core values and belief system are not fully formed and subject to manipulation by someone older and evil. Or a movie. Or a rap song. Or ANYTHING!

In the case of Justin Wolfe, the nine women and three men of the jury failed to recognize that "but for the grace of God" any of them could have been in the same situation as the poor luckless mom of the young man before them; and mercy should have been accorded.

And as far as Lee Boyd Malvo, his lawless carnage is by measure the fault of reckless indifference and negligence by government officials who oversee the welfare of our children.

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