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[personal profile] xenolith
This little rant here came about after I read the Winnipeg Sun's editorial section. There was an article about children who grow up in terrible circumstances and become criminals. The story spoke of one girl in particular who helped beat another girl to death

When this girl was growing up, she was sexually assaulted at a young age by her mother's friend. She was often abused by her parents and deprived of food/water and told that she was useless. Her mother was a prostitute. This girl ended up becoming a prostitute herself and got addicted to drugs.

I don't envy judges who have to decide what to do with these people. I already knew after reading it that there would be responses (this was the online version) to the effect of "So what!" and sure enough, there was a slew of responses saying just that. As always, there was the standard "lots of people grow up in rough conditions and turn out fine!", but when people say this, they almost never seem to know of any cases, or anything remotely comparable to what happened to this girl growing up. In psychology, I believe this is called the "fundamental attribution error". These people are ignoring the effects of the environment in favor of focusing on this girl personally. It is easy and convinient to do this, because it saves people the trouble of thinking too hard and allows them to render a quick judgment with a certain amount of certainity (even if it is wrong). As well, when they refer to all these people who supposedly turn out to be stellar citizens when they are raped, abused, and deprived of basic needs, they make the mistake of assuming that a rare exception should become the standard for all such cases. This seems unreasonable to me.

But there is the question of...what kind of personal responsibility does this girl have? She did kill someone, after all. She took a human life, and for that, people naturally want to see something bad happen to this girl in turn. What would I do if I were a judge? I might put her in psychiatric care, but at this point, what good would it do? An assesment of the girl said that there was a moderate to high risk of reoffending.

Still, I think she should be put under care, and if after a time it is deemed that she is still a danger, than she should be kept out of society. Not in a prison, though I acknowledge that keeping her from going where she pleases amounts to the same thing. I say this because even if this girl's environment led her to become this kind of person, there is still a duty to ensure that she doesn't take another life. Either way, I don't think a "happy ending" solution exists.

Back to the people who were quick to chime in with "boo hoo, enough criminal hugging", I don't know what to say. One of them even said that "if she was sexually assaulted when she was two, how would she even know?". The whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Blah.


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Suredeath Hellman

September 2009


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