Friday, October 14, 2005

The next eleven years

I received an email from one of my nieces the other day. It took the form of a chain letter that you were encouraged to copy and paste and send on to hundreds of other contacts. Like most chain letters it played on people's fears. The content was about the Jamie Bulgar murder done by two ten-year-old boys. After having spent eleven years in a young offender's institute they are about to be released, being granted anonymity for the rest of their lives.

I was told in the letter that "We cannot let this happen" and "They are getting away with their crime" and warned that "if Robert and Jon could be so evil at 10 years old, imagine what they could do as adults!"

The people we were at ten years old are not the same people we become at twenty-one or twenty two. I am not the same person I was at ten years old. I can't believe that the two boys have been sitting in their young offender's institute planning their next murder as soon as they get out. I don't believe they have got away with their crimes either - they have lost their freedom and most of their childhood. Yes, they took away someone else's childhood too, and the rest of that person's life, but I don't think that there haven't been times where they have regretted it. Regret doesn't bring someone back. Executing the criminal doesn't bring someone back either. Keeping them in prison merely makes it three wasted lives instead of one.

I am perhaps naïve in thinking that they wouldn't be released if a group of people didn't think that they were no longer a threat to people. If they have to be granted anonymity, they are the ones being threatened.

What is the alternative to release? As I see it, they are becoming too old to remain in a young offender's institute. That means a transfer to "grown up" prison. Leave them there for the rest of their sentence - another eleven years. Each day they rub shoulders with grown up criminals, not children or youth, but the real hard cases. What are they going to learn in that environment? I think they might possibly learn how to become better criminals with any lack of respect for authority being totally eroded away. At twenty one, outside in the world, going to university, getting a job, earning money and contributing to society, rubbing shoulders with people who love others and are capable of demonstrating compassion - they are not so old that they are fixed in their ways. Leave them in prison for another eleven years with people who for the most part do not know how to show compassion, who hate, and then release them when their attitudes and opinions are fixed in place - that is dangerous. Let's face it - they are going to be released one day. I refuse to see the next eleven years as chances and opportunities for them to kill more people, but chances and opportunities for us to show them why life is sacred and must be respected.

The gospel, the Good News, is about the possibility of change, to be new creations. God doesn't write off anyone, and I don't think we should either.

I am not copying and pasting the letter.

3 comments:

Shelley said...

In my opinion, what those boys need are prayers, not chain letters being passed around about them. Good job at not passing it on.

missmorgan said...

That is quite possibly the most absurd thing I have heard. If they would have been tried as adults they surely would have been put on death row. As for praying for them I think not. I pray for the good people of the world that need a break not murderers. These "children" committed an adult crime and knew they were wrong or else they wouldn't have hidden it. I am the same age as those boys and I knew at 10 years old that hitting someone was wrong. Let alone taking their life. They had no mercy for this little boy. Why should we be so caring about them? And this anonimity is BS I want to know where they are every second of the day. They will strike again and then these people will realize what fools they are making a mokery of the justice system. As well as a fatal mistake for another unsuspecting innocent.

meljkerr said...

This crime was committed in Britain, not in the USA. We do not have a death penalty and we do not have death row.

If we choose like them, to show no mercy, then we are not better than they are.

"They will strike again." That is a very big assumption. I am sure that the authorities would not have deemed it safe to release them if it was likely that they would strike again.

As for not praying for them - the Bible says that we should pray for our enemies. The only hope for a real and lasting change in their character is through an encounter with Jesus.