The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.
The United States is the only country that inflicts life without parole on juveniles. In the landmark Graham v. Florida decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the imposition of life without parole for non-homicide crimes was cruel and unusual punishment for a juvenile offender.
The 2010 decision gave “juvenile lifers,” including Kenneth Young, hope for a second chance.
Tonight on PBS’s “Point of View” documentary series, you can hear his story:
In June 2000, 14-year-old Kenneth Young was convinced by a 24-year-old neighborhood crack dealer — Kenneth’s mother’s supplier — to join him on a month-long spree of four armed robberies. The older man planned the Tampa, Fla. heists and brandished the pistol—and, on one occasion, he was talked out of raping one of the victims by his young partner. Fortunately, no one was physically injured during the crimes, although the trauma that resulted was immeasurable.
When they were caught, Kenneth didn’t deny his part. It was his first serious scrape with the law. But at 15, he was tried under Florida law as an adult. Astoundingly, he received four consecutive life sentences — guaranteeing that he would die in prison. 15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story follows the young African-American man’s battle for release, after more than 10 years of incarceration, much of it spent in solitary confinement. The film is also a disturbing portrait of an extraordinary fact: The United States is the only country in the world that condemns juveniles to life without parole.
Check out the trailer.
I first wrote about illegal immigration in 2005. I’m passionate about a lot of issues but nothing makes my blood boil more than calls for amnesty for the millions of illegal immigrants who either sneaked across the border or overstayed their visa.
I’m a policy wonk so I can cite report after report about the high cost of illegal immigration. But I don’t have to go there. For me, it’s real simple: What part of illegal don’t you understand?
Like a lot of Americans, I’m paying a lot of attention to the mess in Texas. If President Obama had listened, he would have known that Americans want to send the so-called “border children” back to Central America. They’re still here so now Obama is paying a high cost.
The Washington Post reports “immigration is now Obama’s worst issue”:
Immigration has emerged as perhaps President Obama’s worst issue — definitely for today, and maybe of his entire presidency — when it comes to public perception.
A new poll from AP-GfK shows more than two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) disapprove of Obama’s handling of the immigration issue in general. Just 31 percent approve — down from 38 percent two months ago.
Count me among those Americans who want to #SendThemBack. It may sound “mean-spirited” but my give a damn gave out 11 million illegal immigrants ago.
Last week, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams released the findings of the grand jury investigating the Darrin Manning case. To no one’s surprise, the grand jury “concluded that the police acted responsibly and that no criminal act was committed by any members of the police department on that day.”
To hear the cops tell it, the Jan. 7, 2014 incident was a Norman Rockwell moment.
You see, Officer Thomas Purcell wanted to stop Darrin and his teammates out of concern they were trying to get this attention:
Unsure whether the students needed help or were trying to communicate with the police, he opened his door and asked the students what they said. Officer Purcell further testified that he did not hear any response from the students; the students, including Student #1, agreed that they did not respond to the officer.
At 1:55:22 p.m., Officer Purcell activated the police lights on the van in order to perform a U-turn on the busy street. He also testified that he was performing a U-turn to further investigate whether the students were victims of or witnesses to a crime, hence their trying to get the officers’ attention.
Lewis S. Small, Darrin’s attorney, wrote in an email message:
Reminds you of when the police climbed over OJ’s wall at his compound without a warrant because “they were concerned about his safety.”
Matthew Smith Sr., president of the Pennsylvania State Chapter National Action Network, dismissed Officer Purcell’s testimony as inconsistent with police-community relations in Philadelphia. Smith said in a statement:
It strains credulity to suggest Officer Thomas Purcell stopped in the middle of Girard Avenue out of concern the teenagers were trying to get his attention. When they ran that should have been a clue they didn’t want to talk with him. And that should have been the end of the story. But it wasn’t. Darrin Manning stopped because he knew he had done nothing wrong. Everything that followed flowed from an illegal investigatory stop.
The grand jury found the evidence doesn’t support Darrin’s claim that a white female officer grabbed and squeezed his testicle. Officer Cucinotta testified she was “physically unable to reach his genital area.”
My experience is that a man’s genital area is in easy reach no matter what he’s wearing.
Attorney Small asked:
The real question is why did they omit Darrin’s teammates’ testimony in their finding that he heard Darrin screaming that the police officer was squeezing his balls, and yet they quote him as to the resisting arrest? He corroborates Darrin’s version of the events.
It ain’t over.