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What should We Do With Juvenile Killers?

October 14th, 2012 by Michael Tabor
On the front page of the New York Times 10/14/12, there is an article about a  young man, Maurice Bailey, from Pennsylvania who killed his 15 year old pregnant girlfriend, was shortly thereafter apprehended and subsequently indicted, convicted and sentenced to Life imprisonment without parole. This horrific crime occurred in 1993 and Maurice is now 34 years old; there is no question about his guilt – Law enforcement did an excellent job and got the right guy.
I have, however, 3 concerns about this sad story 1.There is an inconsistency with every state’s criminal justice sentencing policy – I mean why didn’t this juvenile (Bailey was also 15 at the time he committed the crime) get at least a chance at parole when the poster boy for heinous crimes, Charles Manson, is eligible (he’s always denied, thank God, but he does get a chance). 2. Maurice Bailey has never denied having committed the crime, is remorseful, and is a completely different man. 3. Inasmuch as Bailey is now a responsible adult and no longer a stupid, violent kid (Btw, I also want to let everyone reading this, that this was also a crime of passion) your holding or even very often (if the inmate is on death row) putting to death an altogether different person.
Let me be clear on this, if the victim were my child, I probably would not want the killer of my daughter to EVER get out, so I completely UNDERSTAND and can relate to the feelings and thoughts of the victim’s family. However, if the killer was truly rehabilitated, remorseful, and no longer a threat to society, I hope I would have the compassion (not unlike Jesus) to realize that the person who killed my child is no longer the same person and has paid his debt to society. I believe that EVERY human being is precious, and although my daughter would never get a second chance and would be gone forever, perhaps this once horrible person can be released and make a positive difference in the world. Killing or incarcerating a once upon a time monster won’t bring back the victim, it’s just a waste – another victim gone forever.
My neighbor, Valerie Vickers, 16,(I had a boyhood crush on her) and best friend with my sister, Mary, was murdered by another Juvenile (I’ve forgotten the killer’s name and couldn’t find him on Google) in the early 1970s when I was just 13. He was a gun collector, and for reasons, only the killer knows, shot Valerie in the chest, neck, and face area; she was so disfigured that the casket had to be closed. I remember the wake like it was yesterday – Fran Vickers, her mother, was literally laying on top of her daughter’s casket sobbing uncontrollably. I can also vividly recollect the state of Greg Vickers (the father) and Greg, jr (Valerie’s brother) – Ineffably and unspeakably sad. I still remember the spirited Valerie showing me the gigantic frog she caught and kissing me on the cheek for accompanying her on a scary ride at the local fair in our small town. The then surviving Vickers, Greg Sr., Greg, Jr., and Fran are all dead now (they tragically all died too young of cancer) and I have no idea what happened to her killer, but if he is still alive, and TRULY reformed, what good is it now, to just let him rot in prison.
So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think? I miss Valerie and my eyes are filling with tears when I think of that whole wonderful family, but what if her killer is truly a good man now. I will leave you with a French proverb that no human is capable of , but we can all try ! “To know all, is to forgive all.”
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11 Responses to “What should We Do With Juvenile Killers?”

  1. K. Scot Sparks Says:

    – Heavy, real stuff, Mike. ‘good questions there. (And SO sad.) May the only wisdom and love adequate to such multi-layered tragedy address this to effectual redemptive/comforting/’remedial’ ends – in the greater scheme. (Best to you, sir!) love, k

  2. Michael Tabor Says:

    Hi Kevin – That article brought back so many intense emotions about Valerie; that horrific incident forced me ne to look inward, ask questions, and realize that awful “heavy” things happen in this world. b4 this, the worst thing that i had experienced was perhaps something banal like ‘ I got a bad gade in school or someone teased me, etc. My innocence was shattered !

  3. Le duke de fromage Says:

    Mchael, when a person regardless of age takes a life the punishment should equal the crime.I realize it is easy to have compassion when one is not involved but to loose a loved one thru a senseless act is unforgivable.The gift of life is so precious and to have it erased by another has to be humankind’s most heinous act… I have a close friend who in a drunken rage brutally stabbed and killed his 23-year old wife and mother of two. He copped a plea at his trial and received 30 years for manslaughter. After 7 years he was released on parole and has been living comfortably in Florida for the last 18 years with his 2nd wife. Is this justice? That poor girl never realized her life’s dreams, got to see her children grow, or enjoyed her grandchildren. She never had a chance to contribute to society or influence this life.
    What if there is no day of judgement? Are we to forgive and forget? Sorry, but we have to be accountable for our actions regardles of age. At age 15 I may have been immature but I did know right from wrong. A person may be repentent but does that erase taking a human life? One could argue the merits of capitol punishment interminably and still not be satisified, but what else are we to do? Dscounting insanity, society has to judge the punishment with the crime.

  4. Michael Tabor Says:

    Hi Le duke – If the killer is unremorseful, a con artist, liar, narcissistic, etc. then the decision is easy – throw away the key and NEVER let him or her out – period. Level 6 (Psychiatric DSM – III has a 1 – 6 scale of people who commit violent crimes) verifiable sociopaths DO NOT GET BETTER and it would be worse than unjust because the fiend would without question, go back to his old ways and start killing again. But, this is not what we are really talking about, it’s rather what we ought to do with people who have changed, a person who is no longer a threat to society (BTW, manslaughter for your friend ? For killing his wife and mother – this is clearly MURDER – our criminal justice system is a mess. I just looked up manslaughter to get the specifics & it reads unintentional killing, without malice. ) We all know that individuals who are high on drugs or pissed out of their minds on booze (still, no excuse, I used to drink and I never hurt a fly, but…) behave differently, sadly sometimes violently. This is such a tough decision; I hear both sides and can’t make up my mind on this one. Thanks for the comment Le Duke.

  5. Michael Tabor Says:

    Hi Le Duke – I just reread your comment and I have to admit that your friend (are u still friends ? What is he like now ? Are you wary of him ? Is he truly remorseful ? Does he give back to society in any way ?) and this guy essentially got away with murder – 7 years for slayng 2 people ? Again, case by case basis, @ the very least he should have been forced to serve the 30 years. At this moment, I’m leaning toward your argument, but I go back and forth.

  6. magdalena tabor Says:

    I have to agree with LeDuke on this one. At age fifteen he should still be held accountable for his actions. Most 15 year olds would never dream of committing such an act, regardless of the circumstances. It’s unthinkable. The question is, when is it safe to release the murderer, or more importantly, IF it’s wise to even do so. It would have to be on a case by case basis, and yet the victim is still gone and lives have been shattered for all eternity. What’s to be done?

  7. magdalena tabor Says:

    Michael, you need to read LeDuke’s comment a third time. He states the man “killed his 23-year old wife and mother of two”.

  8. Michael Tabor Says:

    Okay it was one and the same person – thanks, my love !!! I still think 7 years is too light a sentence for taking another life.

  9. Le duke de fromage Says:

    Michael, I have only seen my friend twice since he was released from prision.He has contacted me by E-mail and gives me updates.He stated he was unable to discuss the” incident”at this time.I believe he has had therapy and lives a very low-key pedestrian life. He has been active in A.A. and knows he cannot drink.I dont believe he is a risk as long as he remains sober nor is he someone to be wary of. He has been shut off by some family members and understands why.I believe he lives with the guilt and will do so the rest of his life.

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