Saturday, August 10, 2013
A Very Unfortunate Situation
I saw something on the news a couple of days ago that I can't get out of my head. I have had a bad taste of our justice system and know first hand that common sense isn't always a part of the process. I realize there are rules and laws and it doesn't leave room for much in the way of exceptions and special circumstances, but it should. Making an example out of a situation isn't always in the best interest of the person being made an example of.
There is a young man at one of our local county high schools that was arrested for misdemeanor vehicular homicide and failure to maintain lane after his SUV rolled off a local road killing his father five months ago.
I don't know anything except what I have seen on the news. Apparently, the young man was driving without a learner's permit or license and overcorrected which caused the SUV to roll. His father was not wearing a seatbelt. His father had a suspended license and was not feeling well so he asked his son to drive.
First, it was not right for the young man to drive without a license of any kind. Those rules are put in place for a reason and it is to protect all those on the road. My two older kids have driving license's and my youngest will be able to get his learner's in 4 months. It isn't as easy to get a license as it was when I was a teenager, but it is a good thing. Driving is a privilege and you have to have respect for other drivers, the roads and laws.
They haven't said, or I haven't heard it if they have, why the dad had a suspended license or why he wasn't feeling well. Either way, it was an irresponsible decision on the dad and young man's part. My family could have been on the road they were on five months ago. I am glad our local police department tries to keep our roads safe and I wouldn't want it any other way.
What has bothered me so much about this is the fact that this is a teenage boy. He was arrested and will be on trial as an adult. He didn't rob a store, jump in a car, and deliberately put anyone in danger. He did what his dad asked whether it was right or wrong. If you back up on the story, this young man lost his mom to cancer prior to losing his father in the ill fated accident. A reverend who serves as chaplain for the school football team expressed what a good kid this boy is.
He is 17 years old and will be tried as an adult. As wrong and irresponsible as his decision to drive was, I can't help but feel how unfair the charges are. I know they have to set an example, but I hardly think the county can impart any harsher consequence than this boy knowing his father died as a result of his driving. He has lost both of his parents. I completely understand and agree with consequences, but do they have to be so harsh? This is where common sense comes into play.
One of the biggest arguments of having a legal drinking age of 21 rather than 18 is because of brain development. There are many research findings that the brain does not reach maturity until about 25 years old. A body may become physically mature a few years before the brain completely matures and catches up. That is what bothers me about this situation. A 17 year old boy obeying his father might not be qualified to be tried as an adult. I understand that if a teenager makes "adult decisions" they should be tried as such, but is this fair? If they don't have the developmental ability to think as an adult I am not sure they should be asked to suffer the consequence as an adult.
Of course, there are times when harsh consequences are completely justified. I think circumstances should have a huge weight with this issue. A young man that is a good student, athlete, and a has positive impact on society and those around him as it appears this young man does certainly doesn't deserve to have his life and future ruined. He is going to live the rest of his life without his dad and knowing what his decision to drive did. I definitely think sharing his story with other teens would be beneficial to his emotional healing and could prevent others from making the same mistake. I don't know what the outcome will be and how he will be punished. It has just been on my mind since I saw it and I can't help feeling how unfortunate the whole situation is.
What do you think? Should he be harshly punished or is there a solution to have a positive impact without completely ruining this young man's life?