Far too many young children are spending time in our correctional facilities. Most states have laws for dealing with juveniles, placing them in a separate category. Every single one of those statutes has an exception for serious crimes, I bet, where children are treated as adults.
But what is the age at which one says, no, no child of these many years can or should be prosecuted at all? Arizona, apparently, sets the bar at 8. Because police in AZ just arrested an 8 year old and charged him with the murder of his father and a friend of the father.
Eight. The boy is eight. He probably knows what has happened, but has no idea why or what the consequences are. Can children of eight form the necessary intent to commit a crime?
But that’s not all from this story. There doesn’t seem to be a requirement of having a parent present during an interrogation, because the cops got a confession. From an eight year old boy. Eight.
police got a confession, but the boy’s attorney, Benjamin Brewer, said police overreached in questioning the boy without representation from a parent or attorney and did not advise him of his rights.
“They became very accusing early on in the interview,” Brewer said. “Two officers with guns at their side, it’s very scary for anybody, for sure an 8-year-old kid.”
False confessions are sought and obtained with adults – I can only imagine how easy it must have been to get a confession from a highly suggestible eight year old child.
The last thing we need is to start putting eight year olds in prison. There has to be a resolution that does not involve prosecution.
The death of the father and father’s friend is certainly a sad event, but it does not need to compounded by prosecution an eight year old who likely has no clue why what he did was wrong, regardless of whether he meant it or not.
Do the right thing, Arizona. Don’t compound one tragedy with another.
On a side note, what’s the byline from this story? Guns don’t kill people, children kill people?