You can’t spell injustice without justice, and in society the two are merging into the same thing.
Let’s be honest, the justice system rarely works and on the rare occasion that it does work then the powers waste no time in plastering the success all over the papers to give the illusion that success is a regular occurrence in the justice system. Don’t be fooled. The real unjust and sickening things that happen every day as well as all of the people who are hard done by, and do not receive justice, are rarely heard about unless a filmmaker makes a documentary or a GoFundMe page sheds light on the issue. Whenever I find out about some sort of injustice my mind is blown because by the time a video or article goes viral, it’s probably months after the incident. However, am I really surprised? No. The unjust- I mean “justice” system wants to dispose of people like garbage, whether they use incarceration or murder disguised as unexplained deaths in police custody, and they want the rest of us to forget about those individuals too. I do not want to forget, nor do I want to be forgotten.
Someone I definitely will not forget is Kenneth Young. I only found out about Young 3 days ago and he has been on my mind constantly since then. His case isn’t a new one, it’s actually 17 years old, so I’m very behind on finding out about him however, he still is not free and it is absolutely absurd and heart-breaking.
In 2000, Kenneth Young, a 14 year-old boy with no previous serious run-in’s with the law, was threatened by his mother’s drug dealer Jacques Bethea, 24 years-old, into committing a series of robberies in Florida. Bethea threatened that he would kill Young’s mother because she had stolen drugs from him and in order to save his mother’s life, Young complied. Although Bethea had planned the robberies, got hold of a 38 revolver to use in the robberies and even attempted to rape one of the victims, he was given one life sentence without parole, whilst Young was tried as an adult and received 4 consecutive life sentences without parole for being an accomplice. Yes, that might sound like I’ve written it incorrectly but I haven’t. The 24 year-old who planned it and coerced a child into committing crimes received less time than the child did. Ridiculous!
NB. The United States is the only country in the world that has it in their routine to sentence children to die in prison, even though their justice system acknowledges that individuals do not have a fully formed ability to understand right from wrong until adulthood. It actually is not fair and makes no sense which is why in 2010, in Graham v Florida, it was ruled that life sentences for children for anything other than murder were unconstitutional. Due to this Young and 76 other inmates, at the time, were eligible for early release.
Young then applied to be released and his journey to redemption was documented by Nadine Pequeneza, who is a writer, filmmaker and producer, in a film called 15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story. The documentary/film brought me to tears almost instantly. In the film you see that Young has an amazing lawyer called Paolo Annino whose research actually contributed to the ruling in Graham v Florida that made it possible for inmates like Young to get early release. As well as his lawyer, he also has his mother and sister in court supporting him. I cried constantly when his mother got on the stand because she blames herself for her son being in jail because if not for her addiction, her son would not have been threatened into criminal acts by Bethea.
Judge Daniel H. Sleet spent the majority of his time in court rolling his eyes, slouching in his chair and probably thinking about what he was going to eat for dinner at home. When I looked at his eyes there was nothing there, no emotion, no compassion, no life. He reminded me of The Demon Headmaster in a way, only even more demonic, and it was blatantly obvious that he had made his mind up to keep Young imprisoned as soon as he stepped into the court room. As well as the demonic judge, there was also a heartless victim called Sandra Christopher.
“SHE LIED IN COURT WITH NO REMORSE…”
Now I know a judge and a victim have two completely different roles and I expect a judge to be more lenient than a victim for the simple fact that, they weren’t there and the victim was traumatised. However, it’s not possible for the trauma to turn someone into something as nasty as Christopher. She lied in court with no remorse, pretending to have seen Young with a gun and even swore on God that she was telling the truth until she was informed that the other victims had all said that he didn’t have a gun and then she said “oh I could see how that could be”. I was absolutely infuriated. I know that Young being a part of the robbery was bad enough, and I definitely do not condone violent behaviour, but the truth would suffice; she didn’t need to fabricate the story. He admitted to his role in the crimes and accepted responsibility as soon as he was arrested and has been consistent the whole time, to see someone tell lies in court bothered me so much and what bothered me more was seeing Judge Daniel H. Sleet lapping it up. Christopher also said that she is not ready to have Young walking around where she lives and that he should stay where he is. Maybe I’m just too forgiving, or my heart is way too big, but I just don’t see how he deserves that? He was 14 years-old!
There was another victim, Jennifer Norman, who Bethea attempted to rape and Young saved her. She speaks in the documentary, whilst crying, because she is grateful that Young saved her. She also didn’t realise his age at the time and when she found out his age and that he’d been sentenced to 4 life sentences she felt so sorry for him. She sent him letters and pictures to thank him for saving her and she was also able to forgive him for the robbery. It touched my heart to know that there are some people in the world that actually do have a heart.
Unfortunately for Young, the demon judge didn’t care about anything said in court. He said, in a nutshell, that he’s happy that Young is a model prisoner however he isn’t going to reward him and let him out because that would be giving him a “key to the city and a parade”. Instead he reduced his sentence to 30 years, meaning that Young will be released in 2030 at the age of 45. You would think he murdered someone, or even physically harmed someone, but no he didn’t.
“YOUNG WILL BE RELEASED IN 2030 AT THE AGE OF 45”
I’m from the United Kingdom so things are a little bit different here, we don’t give children 4 life sentences for robbery, but please don’t think that means have justice here because we certainly do not. In the UK people who sell cannabis get 10 years in jail whilst people who rape children get 3-5 years; if that. This isn’t about UK vs US though, it’s just about justice and how unfair the system has been to Kenneth Young. Should he have been punished for his crimes? Yes. Even though he was threatened into what he was doing, it’s still wrong. However the punishment he received was exaggerated to say the least. I wish I could help get him out of jail before he is 45, and if I ever find a way that I could possibly contribute I will do so, but most of all I hope that he keeps his head up, his heart full and his soul free. Physically he is restricted but I just hope that he doesn’t stop dreaming. He deserves freedom.
I watched the documentary on YouTube so if you’re interested please have a look. If you watched it too please let me know your opinions. I have my views but I’m always open to listening to others, even if they’re completely different than mine.
Thank you for reading. Peace, love and light. Liss x