The Juvenile Justice System In Just Mercy By Stevenson

1657 Words7 Pages

If juveniles have a mental disability they should not be sentenced to life in prison without parole, especially when it is a non homicidal crime. When children experience neglect and abuse it can take them down a dark path, which often leads to jail. Joe Sullivan's case is an example of this. As a child, Joe suffered from childhood abuse, which included both physical and sexual assault. This abuse took a toll on his mental state and led him to be easily manipulated by older kids. From age ten until he was arrested, he had no stable home and had lived in as many as ten different addresses in the span of three years. He spent much of his time on the street, where he committed crimes like stealing a bike, trespassing, and other non-violent crimes …show more content…

In Joe's case, the criminal justice system is way too harsh on a mentally disabled thirteen year old, who lacked a steady home and suffered child abuse and neglect. His punishment is a prime example of how society is too harsh on children who commit non homicide crimes, especially given the circumstances in this case. Instead of helping Joe, they locked him up for life, where nobody cared about him. When they imprisoned him, they didn't even send him to a juvenile prison, but instead sent him to an adult prison, where he was left vulnerable and an easy target. Kids should not be going to adult prisons as juveniles because the harsh environment prevents them from rebounding back from their past mistakes. Society is too harsh on kids who commit crimes at a young age. These kids should not let one event from their childhood define their …show more content…

Although he is set to be released in less than two years, he does not obtain the help he needs while in prison, where he has resided for almost three decades. It is a devastating story because most people do not understand the help he needs. It's the people who would surprise you the most that do. One of Joe’s Inmates noticed Joe’s severe mental disability, “An inmate incarcerated with Joe writes to EJI about Joe's abuse and his disability" (“Joe Sullivan Character Analysis” N.P.). This inmate realized that Joe does not deserve to be in prison, but instead needs help getting out so that he can receive the help that he needs. Maybe, if someone as empathetic as this inmate had realized Joe needed help as a child, he would not be sitting in a jail cell right now. Rather, he would be a successful man with a nice job and a family. Society is too harsh on the mentally disabled, and tends to neglect the horrific backgrounds of these people. If a child is headed down the wrong path, people need to stop and offer to help. Then, in the future, people will learn his family history, take a new approach on his trial, and offer to aid him. If anyone had helped Joe when he most needed it, he might be in a better

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