Convicting Children

By: Rexanne Mancini

The conviction of 14-year-old Lionel Tate for first-degree murder and the subsequent life in prison sentence has been all but absent from the media lately. After the Florida court handed down the shocking sentence three weeks ago, it seems the media considers it old news. I am choosing to publish my feelings about this case anyway.

I cannot seem to overcome my strong feelings about this topic. I cannot tolerate the fact that a 6 year-old child was beaten to death yet I cannot accept a 14 year-old boy being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Where in the world did this sentence come from? This is a child we are talking about and a crime he committed when he was 12 years old!

The crime that brought this case to trial is appalling, yet sentencing a 14-year-old boy life in prison without the possibility of parole is ludicrous. This is not justice, this is cruel and unusual punishment handed down to a child. This is cowardice in its highest form and the jurors who convicted him should be ashamed.

How could the state of Florida try this boy as an adult in the first place? He is not an adult nor should he be expected to assume the consciousness of an adult.

I see pictures of Lionel Tate and feel nothing but horror at the fear and uncertainty in his eyes as he looks at his mother, obviously trying to comprehend his situation. Yes, the fear and pain he inflicted on Tiffany Eunick is inexcusable. He should definitely be held accountable for his actions, however, he should be held accountable as the child he was at the time of the incident and still is. His mother should be held even more accountable. She was the adult in charge. Where was she when this little girl received 30 horrendous injuries? In hindsight, it’s easy to say it was a huge mistake to leave her son alone with little Tiffany Eunick. But where was her head when she rejected the plea bargain of three years in a juvenile facility and ten years probation that would have been a more realistic sentence for this boy? Granted, Lionel Tate was a troubled child. His life had been littered with problematic behavior for quite a few years before this incident. All the more reason to hold his mother accountable for what clearly has been negligent parenting.

It might be unfair to blame Lionel’s mother for his actions, however, as his parent, she needed to find a way to help her son adapt to society when he was clearly lacking adequate social skills. Tiffany Eunick would most likely be alive today and Lionel Tate a carefree teenager had she taken her parenting role more seriously. Again, hindsight makes it all seem so easy. Parenting is not easy. To raise a responsible citizen, we must be responsible parents. If our children are creating problemsFree Reprint Articles, we must take measures to find solutions for them to better cope with the world before they destroy their lives and the lives of innocent victims.

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