Thursday, March 29, 2012

Supreme Court Can Free Children Like Jacob Ind

ABUSED KIDS WHO KILL ABUSERS GET LONGER PRISON SENTENCES THAN ADULTS

On December 17,1992, fifteen-year-old Jacob Ind and a friend from school murdered Jacob’s mother and stepfather, Pamela and Kermode Jordan. Trial testimony established that Jacob suffered years of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Jacob’s brother testified to brutal rapes perpetrated upon the boys from the time Jacob was only four years old. Pamela’s best friend’s son, testified to Pamela’s penchant for molesting boys and even Pamela’s mother testified to how she witnessed inappropriate touching by Kermode later in Jacob’s life. Others testified to seeing Kermode strike five-year-old Jacob with the ferocity "one would strike a grown man." Numerous witnesses testified to seeing suspicious bruises on Jacob at various ages. Despite three weeks of such testimony, Jacob received 2 consecutive life sentences without parole.

(Jurors did not know conviction meant a mandatory life sentence. Colorado jurors can't know the penalties for conviction. Some thought Jacob would only get treatment. Jacob's judge lamented that her hands were tied and she could only give him life without parole.)

Jacob Ind’s sentence is grossly disproportionate when compared to other people in Colorado who killed parents or grandparents.

The case most comparable to Jacob’s is that of 14-year-old John Caudle. After a lifetime of abuse he killed his mother and stepfather. In 2011, John Caudle receive 22 years in prison, a sentence the sentencing judge declared appropriate because it was on par with cases of that nature.

In 2007, Tess Damm was sentenced to 23 years for the killing her of her alcoholic abusive mother.

2004: 16-year-old Michael Fitzgerald was sentenced to 62 years for killing his father.

1999: 14-year-old John Engel was sentenced to 32 years for killing his mother and grandmother.

1999: Seventeen-year-old Jason Spivey receive 48 years for the rape and murder of his grandmother.

1998: 17-year-old Leon Gladwell was sentenced to 40 years for killing his grandmother.

The sentence disparity is even worse when contrasted with sentences handed down to males who were adults when they committed their crimes and had more culpability for their actions.

2009: 23-year-old Raymond Berry killed his father who had sexually abused him. He was sentenced to three years in prison plus 10 years probation.

2003: 38-year-old Thomas Martinez doused his father with kerosene and lit him on fire. For this grizzly crime Martinez has already been paroled.

1994: 19-year-old Jenna Smythe conspired with two others to murder her mother and a 15-year-old runaway. She received 30 years in prison.

1986: 18-year-old Larry Long murdered both of his parents and his 17-year-old brother. He received 48 years in prison.

It is a travesty of justice when fully functioning adults receive far less time for murdering a parent than does a child who suffered years of horrific abuse and who acts out of desperation and misery. Jacob Ind was convicted at a time when super predators and 1993's "summer of violence” were in the news. The abuse excuse and the case of the Menendez brothers who killed their wealthy parents were often used as a false comparison before, during and after the trial. Jacob’s conviction was used in the re-election campaign of the sitting district attorney, who is now Colorado's attorney general. (And still publicly claims there was no evidence of abuse in Jacob's case.)

Makes one wonder why all of this hatred and vitriol was aimed at one abused child.

Jacob Ind is guaranteed to die in prison without clemency while someone with virtually identical crimes and circumstances was sentenced to 22 years. Jacob will die in prison while an older juvenile who raped and murdered his grandmother will get out, and a thirty-eight year old man who set his father on fire has already been released from prison. This is an injustice which only new laws or Colorado's Juvenile Clemency Board can fix.

4 comments:

  1. Part Four:

    Recovery books that helped me:

    Abused Boys, by Dr. Mic Hunter, PH.D, 1990

    Victims no Longer, by Mike Lew, 1988

    Bradshaw On: The Family, by John Bradshaw

    Healing the Shame that Binds You, by John Bradshaw

    Self Esteem, by Dr. Matthew McKay, PH.D.

    Local Denver-area childhood sexual abuse recovery resource:
    http://www.wingsfound.org/

    Mike Lew runs numerous intensive recovery weekend events at:
    http://www.nextstepcounseling.org/

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  2. Part One:

    My own feeling, as someone who survived a very abusive childhood at the hands of my father and friends of my parents from their cult church, is that Jacob has suffered a gross miscarriage of justice. I also firmly believe that all of Colorado's 50 LWOP juveniles are in-effect political prisoners because they were not included in recent juvenile sentencing reform. I personally think that sentencing a juvenile to a sentence of life without parole, or even a sentence of longer than 10-15 years is as serious a human rights violation as any human rights violation anywhere in the world too.

    When an adult woman manages to kill or injure a rapist they are often thought of as folk heroes. When a teenage boy that has been repeatedly raped, beaten, sexually abused, and emotionally brutalized, sometimes nightly for many years, finally snaps and can't take any more abuse, they are railroaded into long prison terms allegedly to prevent others from taking the same path, without any regard for the issues that forced the young person in question to feel that they had no other option to end their victimization.

    It is almost like the system would rather that serious cases of child abuse just continue until the victim causes enough trouble to incarcerate them, instead of trying to stop the abuse, jail the abuser, and treat the victim for his (or her) suffering.

    Childhood physical, emotional, and sexual abuse are readily treatable issues. Therapy and support is not an easy process and it might take a few years to see a lot of recovery progress. In my own case I acted-out against others through random acts of vandalism, fighting, and intimidation, and I acted inwards against myself through severe drug abuse and alcoholism, along with daily repeated acts of high-speed reckless driving, and I was also someone who engaged in repeated acts of inflicting pain on myself too.

    I too tried to tell adults and even the Vermont State Highway Patrol the very next day after a weeklong incident of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of a friend of my parents, and nobody wanted to believe me. The police in VT just called my abuser and had him come pick me up for another night of violent physical and sexual torture rather than do anything about my accusations, after I had hitchhiked 15 miles away from him.

    My own mother beat the crap out of me during the Summer of 1972 at age 14 for "lying" about one of her church friends, a Vietnam-era US Marine drill instructor, who was just one of my 11 different sexual abuse perps between my age of 6 and 18. It is hard to believe that no adult who saw the changes in me after those two events or as my life spiraled downhill were able to draw the right conclusions. No, I was just left to suffer on my own, and as long as I can remember up to the age of 43, I suffered a whole lot as I was unfairly judged by my symptoms as some kind of unemployable criminal unworthy of taking a chance on instead.

    I got lucky, in that I never killed anyone, even though I could have many, many times. If I would have had a gun in my hand that day at age 14 that Marine would have been shot full of holes, and the same goes for my perp in Vermont at age 16, as well as the last guy who picked me up when I was hitchhiking home from work at age 18 who raped and sexually tortured me at gunpoint too. No, instead these people were all free to go on and continue to abuse other young people instead.

    Now it is nearly 40 years later, and the guy in Vermont is long dead, but two of his three kids are currently in prison in Vermont, because as adults society was unable to put-up with their symptoms of victimization, and the son of the Marine is in prison in Michigan too. My rapist at age 18 is also now dead, after he raped several more boys and killed a couple too. Who knows what the other 8 perps went on to do after they victimized me? My guess is that society could care less what they did or are continuing to do.

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  3. Part Two:

    I also got lucky, in that I first found childhood abuse recovery services in 1986 while I was a college student at Cleveland State University, and while those first 18 months in therapy were not successful, I did make a lot of progress there too. I also got lucky that my stepdad was as supportive and understanding as my own father was cold, callous, and violent. My stepdad was also well-off, and as a result I was able to attend one of the premier drug treatment programs in the US twice, in 1996 and 1997, while at the same time I was able to see several different childhood sexual abuse therapists, including one who was then one of the leading such therapists in the nation.

    Still it took five solid years of therapy, group support, and concurrent substance abuse treatment to conquer my shame and recover enough self-esteem to finally leave my drug habit behind. I went from living basically homeless in 1996 to owning a nice suburban house late in 2001, in fact I have owned three brand-new houses in Broomfield since 2001, and I went from holding 44 different jobs between 1972 and 1997 with substantial periods unemployed to only holding two jobs since then, one for almost 10 years.

    On top of my employment success, I also volunteered 2 & 1/2 years of my time as a childhood sexual assault recovery mentor on the Male Survivor.org website between 2008 and 2011, and I was one of the 200 male victims of childhood sexual victimization who Oprah Winfrey hosted on her two shows on the subject in November of 2010.

    I have heard it said by some Colorado County Prosecutor that he would rather keep all kids who murder in jail for the rest of their lives rather than for the 10% who might re-offend to cause any more victims to suffer. Really? What about all of the people who repeatedly abused me, none of whom have ever done a day in jail despite my telling several adults including law enforcement officers what these people did to me?

    Today it costs society $40K annually to keep someone locked-up, a figure which will double within 20 years. So, this means for every 100 juveniles that could be treated and released back to society, this prosecutor would rather that us taxpayers pay $3.6 million annually to keep the 90 kids who could be successfully rehabilitated locked-up so that the 10% can’t re-offend? Who is the victim here? It is you and I, Colorado’s taxpayers who are being asked to foot the bill for a policy which grossly violates international law and which must be viewed as a serious human rights violation, plain and simple.

    I would have a whole lot less problem giving juvenile court judges increased latitude to sentence violent kids to longer terms of incarceration if necessary, just as long as the focus was one of rehabilitation, and I would also favor the State operating prison facilities where young people who commit serious acts of violence could continue to be treated in a much more humane manner than is possible in an adult prison as long as 10 years over the age of 21 too. Why not keep kids somewhere that they have a chance?

    Another change that I would like to see made would be the inclusion of first-time violent offenders up to the age of 21 in such an intermediate judicial system too, as I strongly feel that this age group would also be quite amenable to rehabilitation too, and that us taxpayers could have lots of money left over for other things if we made this change too.

    Just remember one thing, just so there is no mistake: The longer that we hold a teenager incarcerated, the less chance that they will ever become productive citizens as adults, and the greater the chance that they will re-offend if released. Not only that, but kids placed into adult prisons are five times as likely to get beaten-up, sexually assaulted, and raped than are kids placed into our juvenile and youthful offender system too.

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  4. Part Three:

    I know for a fact that Jacob Ind, Nathan Ybanez, and several of the other victims of childhood abuse who took justice into their own hands as kids, trying to stop years of victimization, are quite amenable to child abuse therapy and all would have excellent prospects for recovery and eventually becoming responsible adults, but we have to give them another chance. I am also pretty certain that 90% of the Colorado 50 juveniles serving the extreme penalty of Death in Jail, a number of them as first-time violent offenders, would be amenable to treatment and could become productive citizens if we were able to find enough humility and humanity to do what the Bible says and turn the other cheek as far as these kids are concerned.

    If you are someone who believes as I do on this subject, I would encourage you to write to Governor Hickenlooper and to President Obama too. If we as a nation want to greatly reduce the numbers of kids (and adults) who kill, we could follow the lead in Europe and outlaw handguns instead. For instance, in 2009, all of Great Britain, a country with 61 million people, only had 651 murders, or 10.7 murders per million population. Colorado, on the other hand, had 159 murders for just over 5 million people in 2009, or almost 32 murders per million population, or triple the murder rate in Great Britain.

    Is the right to own handguns, arguably the most-dangerous product ever produced and legally mass-owned, worth an extra 106 murders every year just in Colorado over the same rate in Great Britain, where handgun ownership is heavily restricted? Should kids who irresponsibly use handguns pay with the entire rest of their lives for their youthful irresponsibility, even though they absolutely can not in an adult manner ascertain the potential consequences of their actions or the chance that they will be caught either, or should adults who own handguns, who fail to safely secure them and a juvenile then uses that gun to kill or injure someone, should such adults face some or equal culpability too?

    If a nightclub over-serves a patron and that patron then later kills someone while driving drunk, is the nightclub deemed partially legally responsible? So give me a good reason why adults who fail to safely and responsibly secure products as dangerous as guns not be deemed partially legally responsible when their irresponsible inaction ends up with some kid killing or injuring someone with a gun that they should have had no access to?

    Let’s do the right thing here in Colorado and enact a policy regarding juvenile violence much more in line with international law that the US is a signatory to, and let’s try to attain a “kinder and gentler” standard when it comes to dealing with our own young people who feel that they have no other alternative than to defend themselves from repeated violent abuse, since all of us adults in Colorado enjoy the legal right to use deadly force to defend our homes and our families when we feel threatened ourselves.

    We don’t need to brutalize these 50 kids to death just to prove that we are tired of violent crime, nor does anyone who has been victimized need this kind of revenge either. Why not judge individuals who commit violent crimes on the merits of their individual cases rather than because we are angry at those who have violated such laws previously. Is justice blind or is justice a sum result of what came previously?

    Let’s give these kids another chance, while they still have a good chance, and if any of them fail than I will have a lot less of a problem dealing harshly with them individually.

    Mark C. Richardson
    Broomfield, CO

    Trucker51 at Male Survivor.org (My own survival story posted there on May 30th, 2008 in two parts). Male Survivor also runs several intensive weekend recovery events in the US and Canada yearly too.

    Jacob deserves better than his experience so far.

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