A 13-year-old Texas boy accepted a plea deal yesterday for a 15-year sentence following the stabbing murder of his friend earlier this summer. The boy charged in the murder will be eligible for parole in three years. The judge in the case says that he agreed to the relatively light sentence for the murder (which could have been up to 40 years) because he thought the boy had a good chance to change.
The judge said:
I think this young man has a chance to be rehabilitated. I’m actually pulling for him. All these cases are difficult. These are kids. Some of these kids are good kids, some are rotten kids, but they’re all kids, and all these cases that come through here are difficult. You have to weigh them and evaluate them, but that’s true for judges in any situation.
The charges in the incident stemmed from the boy stabbing his 14-year-old friend in the heart. His mother is understandably distraught, but his defense attorney says, "She’s upset, but she’s accepted it and come to terms with what’s going on.”
Was the judge right to value the prospect of rehabilitation in a criminal so young? Or does it speak to the underlying "rottenness" of the child to have committed a crime so young?