12 year old girl attempted murder, gets 25 year sentence

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.

Keep in mind that the charge is attempted murder, not murder, and that the girl was 12 years old at the time. How do you end up with a 25 year sentence, given those facts? The majority of all murderers don’t get sentences that long (I’m using the word “murder” in the legal USA sense, so you should avoid thinking about first degree murder, which is rare.)

From the article:

If medical professionals and the jury have deemed Alyssa Weier not responsible for her actions due to mental illness, which they have, she should indeed receive help and rehabilitation. But the sheer amount of years that these girls are facing is utterly ludicrous to me. Their punishments are indicative of hardwired American sentencing cruelties and the lingering moral panic of the case.

To demonstrate how shaken the system was by the Slender Man stabbing, prosecutors had initially sought to try these 12-year-olds as adults and seek maximum adult sentencing for them—up to 65 years in prison. That Weier may now not be free until she is 37 years old after an event that took place when she was 12 strikes me as inhumane (her family had asked that she not be held past age 25, which seems like a rational request). Geyser, who did the physical stabbing of Leutner, has not yet been sentenced but faces “at least” 40 years in a psychiatric institution, if she is not held behind bars. That means that she might not see the outside world until she is 57 or far older. By contrast, many countries in the EU set the maximum prison sentence for actual murder by an adult at 30 years, with most prisoners serving far less time.

Is this sentencing justice for what happened? Will decades in an institution or prison help “fix” what was broken in these young women that led to such an extreme and violent act? The fact that our court system wanted to try these girls as adults subject to 65-year terms is outrageous. And yet, America’s criminal justice system is so deeply flawed to start that the girls likely only found the relative “leniency” that they have because they are white, female, come from middle-class families, and are the subject of media attention.

There can be no happy resolutions from this tragic case, but I could wish for a greater degree of sympathy and a punishment that is commensurate with the age and agency of the perpetrators when the crime occurred. In America, the worst of our horror stories aren’t always on the Internet.

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