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Friday, March 30, 2018

Crimes & Punishments ~ and misplaced sympathies !!!

Often there could misplaced sympathies !!!  There are times when people sympathise with the perpetrator of a crime, totally forgetting the torment of the innocent victim !~ when an innocent girl was murdered publicly on a railway platform, some media assailed her character and sought to know of their relationship ! – whatever it could have been – is slaying right and who deserves justice – the one killed or the one who killed ?  ~ the modesty is further outraged by some trying to make a film portraying what he wants to and trying to make money out of the tragic event.

Thousands of miles away – in a different country - "You made your choice," Judge Evelyn Baker said at sentencing. "You're gonna have to live with your choice, and you're gonna die with your choice, because, you will die in the Department of Corrections.Judge Evelyn Baker stared down at the accused before her  in St. Louis courtroom, she was filled with disgust. It was the winter of 1997 – the man  had been found guilty of committing a series of armed robberies in his own neighbourhood when he was only 16. His victims had come to his side of town in a spirit of giving, carrying donations for Christmas.  The man and his 18-year-old friend Donald Hutson had held them up at gunpoint. Two men in their 20s handed over their money but were shot anyway. The bullets grazed them, but they survived.

After being swiftly arrested, the accused refused a plea deal, insisting on going to trial and pleading not guilty. The jury convicted him on 18 charges — a total of 241 years. The prosecutor asked Ms. Baker to impose them consecutively. “These were good-hearted people, all of them” he said of the victims. “And they ran into two mean-hearted men. They’re not boys, they’re men.”  The Judge, Ms Baker was not known for harsh sentences. In fact, she had a reputation for the opposite. The first black woman appointed to the Circuit Court bench, Baker was often accused of being soft on crime. She angered the St. Louis circuit attorney for throwing out felony convictions for lack of evidence. Her penalties in drug cases were decried as too lenient. Months before these  crimes, Baker had sparked outrage for sentencing a drunk driver who killed two teenagers to probation rather than prison.But on that day, it was Baker who was angry.

Sentencing is not just about determining how long someone should be behind bars, it also has a symbolic, theatrical function, says an expert who has written extensively about deterrents.  In a case where Judge sentenced the criminal for 150 years for fraud, the Judge was conveying that he was really a bad person and for that purpose the no. of  years shall be endlessly elastic. How much symbolic denunciation plays a part can depend on many things, such as media coverage or the nature of an offence, but the tension between these two radically different functions - the symbolic and practical - is a feature of modern criminal justice system – and it is reported that in a  casein Spain, a fraudster received a 2,000-year sentence.

At Capetown, the Cricket fans were brought to their knees – Aussies were caught unabashedly trying to tamper and change the condition of the ball.  Following the outrage, Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) stepped in and handed over bans to trio Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.  Captain Smith and his deputy Warner were stripped of their positions and banned for a year by Cricket Australia, while Bancroft received a nine-month ban for the incident in the third Test against South Africa. Smith, 28, and Bancroft, 25, have also been banned from captaining Australia for at least the next two years, while Warner, 31, will not be considered for any team leadership positions in the future.

Before the ink could dry, there are some murmurs that Aussie board is too stern and that players have been penalised rather sharply.  Think of the grave crime, how the Cricket fans have been taken for a ride and more so, the attitude of winning somehow ! yet yesteryear star Shane Warne has condemned the actions of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft but believes the punishments handed down for the roles the trio played in the ball-tampering controversy engulfing world cricket are too harsh.

On that fateful night on 16th Dec 2012, an young physiotherapy intern boarded a private bus – sadly, the young girl was  beaten, gang raped, and tortured.  There were 6 animals in the bus,  all of whom raped the woman and beat her friend. Eleven days after the assault, she was transferred to a hospital in Singapore for emergency treatment but died from her injuries two days later.  There were wide protests seeking justice for her, protecting her identity, the victim came to be known as Nirbhaya, meaning "fearless", her life and death have come to symbolise women's struggle to end the rape culture in India and the long-held practice of either denial of its existence within the country, or otherwise blaming the victim rather than the perpetrator.

Of the animals that brutally mangled her, was a juvenile who is due for release after  serving his three-year sentence.  Though found guilty of the gruesome crime, he was handed a milder punishment as he was a juvenile.  For punishment his age was considered, though he committed a crime, far beyond his age. Nirbhaya’s mother rightly feels that allowing the 20-year-old from Badaun, Uttar Pradesh to leave the reform home ‘sends out a wrong message’. “Juveniles will now think they can do whatever they want, and get away with it,” she added. After committing the gruesome crime, he went to juvenile home and not to jail and his roaming free would convey only wrong signals.  He may have completed the sentence – but should remain a criminal for ever. Away from media glare or rather with their active support, he reportedly  has settled well in his new life. He is cooking at a prominent restaurant. His employer is not aware of his past and even he has left it behind,” said a NGO official, who was part of his rehabilitation process. There are NGOs and others to plead and protect such criminals but not many to voice for the victims !

The US case referred was that of Bobby Bostic who  was convicted of eighteen crimes stemming from an armed robbery and carjacking committed in 1995 when he was sixteen. He and an eighteen-year-old accomplice held up a group of do-gooders delivering gifts for the poor on the north end of the Hill neighborhood. The teens shot two of them, even though their victims handed over cash and a wallet. According to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story from back then, the victims miraculously survived the ordeal with only nicks and scrapes because their thick, winter coats slowed the bullets.   State Attorney General Josh Hawley said Bobby Bostic’s 241-year sentence for committing 18 crimes — including robbery — on a single day when he was 16, does not violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The jurisprudence deemed it fit  that  the man who committed a brutal robbery as a teenager in Missouri, firing a gun at two people, will be in prison until he dies. Unless the court changes its mind, he will be in prison until January 2091, at least.Bobby Bostic was from St Louis, Missouri, in the American Midwest. He was one of four; his older brother and sister had a different dad. Reading in a BBC report, aged 10, he started smoking and drinking. He was on cannabis aged 12 and was smoking PCP - another illegal drug - aged 13. At the same time, he would steal cars, or ride in stolen ones."It was a status symbol," he reportedly said.  "That was our idea of wealth - a car that wasn't even ours."It was a Tuesday in December 1995 that changed his life. Bostic, 16, was at a friend-of-a-friend's house in another part of town; smoking weed, drinking gin, smoking PCP. The victims were giving presents to a needy family, as part of a newspaper appeal. They had two car-loads and a truck. Bostic and Hutson approached the first victim as she took the couch cushions out of her car. They put a gun to her head. When she ran, they chased her.Her boyfriend - who had been on the phone - shouted at them, so Bostic and Hutson chased after him instead. They demanded his money, punched him, and shot at the ground.When the boyfriend didn't hand over the money, 

Bostic still shot him. Four months after being arrested, Bostic was offered a deal: plead guilty and take a life sentence - 30 years - with the chance of parole. He turned it down.Eight months later, he was offered a "mercy of the court" deal: plead guilty and take what the judge decides. Again, he turned it down. Bostic went on trial and was found guilty of 17 counts, including eight counts of armed criminal action, and three counts of robbery. The judge ordered Bostic's sentences to run consecutively, rather than concurrently. The total was 241 years."You made your choice, and you're gonna die with your choice," said Judge Baker. "Because Bobby Bostic - you will die in the Department of Corrections."Bostic's accomplice, Donald Hutson, took the mercy of the court deal. Judge Baker gave him 30 years.

The courts in Missouri, where Bostic has appealed, say he is not serving a life sentence - he is serving a long sentence, with the chance of parole in "extreme old age".

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
30th Mar 2018.

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