Over at the Spanish Inquisitor, John P wrote a good post about Kenneth Foster, and the complete unfairness of his death sentence. Though I have recently heard his sentence has changed to life imprisonment, the entire thing is a fiasco.
However it did remind me of a story I read before that made me think the USA must truly be mad. The story is about a girl called Nicole Dupure. She is one of 2,270 children sentenced to life imprisonment without parole in the US. Tried as adults in an adult court, they will never be set free, and will live the rest of their long lives behind bars.
Nicole's story is unbelievable. It amazes me that any country that could call itself just, would allow it. Here are the relevant paragraphs:
At school she [Dupure] had aspirations to become a medical lab technician, specialising in the treatment of heart defects. Her background was far from typical for a lifer - no criminal record, no history of alcohol or drug abuse, a high school graduate with mainly B grades. Her next step was to be college.
A chance encounter when she was 17 changed everything. She was working in the holidays to earn petrol money at a grocery store near her home in Michigan's St Clair County. There was a 19-year-old working there called William Blevins who was funny and charismatic - they started dating. "I wasn't able to see the warning signs. My mum did. She said he didn't seem like a good kid and I shouldn't be around him as he would bring me down. I didn't listen to her. I thought like any teenager that she just didn't want me to have a boyfriend."
When Blevins was thrown out of his home by his parents, Dupure, by then pregnant, left home to be with him. "I just didn't want him to be alone," she says. They went looking for a motel room to rent. On April 23 2004 they stopped off at Big Boy, a fast-food restaurant she knew well because it was near the apartment of her great-aunt's best friend, Shirley Perry. Perry, who was 89, used to babysit for Dupure when she was very young; Dupure and Blevins had been to her flat several times, offering to help her with shopping and odd jobs.
At this point the official version parts company with Dupure's. In court, the prosecution alleged that the teenagers plotted together to kill Perry for her money. They took just $30 from her flat to pay for motel fees and two milkshakes at Big Boy. Dupure actively participated in the murder, striking the old woman on the head with a cooking pot and fetching the kitchen knife Blevins used to kill her.
Dupure insists she was not in the apartment at all, but waited in the restaurant, oblivious to the events unfolding, while Blevins went off on his own. What is certain is that Blevins murdered the old woman, stabbing her several times and strangling her. Under police questioning he admitted it, saying he acted alone. But shortly before he went on trial he changed his evidence and put Dupure alongside him at the scene of the murder. In return, the prosecution agreed he should be given the lesser charge of second-degree murder and avoid lifelong incarceration. Under cross-examination, he conceded to the jury, "I never had intentions to pin it on her until I ran out of options."
Blevins got 20 to 50 years, with the hope of reducing his sentence through good behaviour. Dupure got life without parole, with no forensic evidence tying her to the crime and entirely on the strength of Blevins' testimony.
So the real murderer, who admitted to killing Perry alone, changed his evidence to pin Dupure to get a reduced sentence. Dupure, with no evidence other than the accusation by Blevins, who had an obvious incentive to accuse Dupure, gets life without parole. What the fuck is up with that!? How could anybody with an ounce of a brain not see the obvious bullshit.
There are only five countries which mete out this sentence to children: Israel, South Africa, Tanzania, Somalia and the US. The first three together have only 12 prisoners with this sentence. The US has 2,270.
If you wish to read the full article, it can be found here.