Ugh, Alyssa Bustamante. That girl has given me the creeps for the last two years. (I wrote a blog entry on Momversation about her shortly after she killed poor Elizabeth Olten). And now she’s received life in prison for killing her 9-year-old neighbor. On a reactive level, I agree with the sentence because the girl is a scary mess; killed for the thrill, mentally unstable, etc. It is doubtful that she feels real remorse, given her actions after the crime and her subsequent statements. On the other hand, life in prison for a 15-year-old girl? What good does that do anyone?
It’s the hypocrisy of trying minors as adults that that burns me so. We have people who create laws that children can be tried for crimes as adults. But these same children are deemed not mature enough to actually vote for the lawmakers. (No taxation without representation… um, sort of…) Minors are also not mature enough to drink, rent a car, make a contract, or (in Bustamante’s case) drive a car. The only thing these kids are mature enough to handle is going to jail. For the rest of their lives.
Physiologically, children have brains that ain’t done growin’ yet. So, yes, minors can tell right from wrong, but scientifically, they can’t actually comprehend the consequences of their actions. Death to a 15-year-old doesn’t mean the same as death to a 35-year-old. Like, literally.
So, what do you do with a child like Bustamante? I’ve already stated that I don’t think she has the capacity to feel true remorse (though I am just a layperson with a passing knowledge of the case). But, quite frankly, if we aren’t going to try to rehabilitate a youth, then why do we even pretend that our justice system is rehabilitative at all? Let’s slam the door on anyone who has done something wrong because they deserve it. Never mind what is actually good for society.
That said, I don’t want that girl to move next door to me. She’s spooky.