Marshawn Allen, Us Supreme Court, Marsha Levick discussed on On Point with Tom Ashbrook | Podcasts
His case he was he was given a multiple life sentences without the let's see if we can get marshawn Allen back on the phone here but Marsha Levick talk to me a little bit about a read the facts of marshawn case here I mean is that that's part of the the big picture that we have to look at that he did he someone who didn't even pull the trigger and but ended up with a life sentence without the possibility of parole at the age of fifteen that's life without parole under the exact same circumstances and his case highlights how we cannot think about these cases we cannot examine them through one lens everybody is different and that's precisely the point of the Courts decisions. Well let's see if we have Marshall Allen back on the line here marshawn are you with us from here okay thanks so much for joining us today in this discussion here you just tell us a little bit about when you were fifteen and you began serving your your life sentence without the possibility thirty of parole I mean take us back to that that moment in time who what what were you like what kind of person were you then at fifteen well at the age of fifteen have to step back and explain that I had an older brother who I looked up to who was involved in drug dealer and and I my my dad was using drugs and he wasn't around and my mom's brothers who actually introduced my brother to selling drugs they were actually the only male role models I had around so those were the people I was looking up to so growing up in environment and I just didn't my community but also the family household where selling drugs and was was acceptable You know it played a very very impressionable role in my life but I was a youth I was in high school I was very into fixing things with my hands and working on cars and things like that I wasn't a bad kid I 'cause I got into trouble like every kid does when they're especially boys get into trouble when at age but I was not at that point I had never been charged or convicted or a comedian he acts of violence when my case happened and circumstances will be happening was as you know his his drug deal that went bad individuals head of came to buy large amount of drugs from my brother and and putting a gun to my head and forcing me to take them to the apartment when my brother was a hit his drugs and money well he's business from and especially on the ground and they out that he made the drug do they actually kidnapped me and made me take them back to the location where he had picked him up and so is the situation it'll add to it my role in a crime was still in the vehicle that was used and and that came about with me being a teenager I was really into cars I love cars I love driving him fixing on them and everything so I learned at a very young age how to drive and actually was still cards from like of individuals in my neighborhood Masan if I can just interrupt here we've just got a minute before I have to let you go here you were released in two thousand sixteen you served twenty five years right and now you you manage an advocacy group called the Restore Justice Foundation. I mean just a minute we have before I have to let you go here what do you you think your experience what lessons should should we draw from your experience about how we ought to be looking at at questions of juvenile sentencing well as Marcia said in that science says that you ju are different than we do change that we shouldn't be have this sentence Espn impose on every that should be individual consideration that should be made before citizens I made in there shouldn't be as we you say that there is no no crystal ball for the election no at the time we'll send the scene how individuals WanNa turn out so there there should be some mechanism in place in in place where a youth can be read review ten years and with instant sentenced to decide where he's at whether or not he's been rehabilitate it can be safely released to society we shouldn't just be categorically finishing youth without parole without giving them a chance to themselves well marshawn Allen he is a man he manages the advocacy and out at an outreach for the restored Justice Foundation and is a board member of the campaign for the fair sentencing of youth joining us from Chicago go marshawn thank you so very much and Marsha Levick Sam by here for just a moment we have to take a quick break this is point this is on point I'm Meghna Chakrabarti we're talking with Marshall Levick she is chief counsel and founder of the Juvenile Law Center Public Interest Law firm that's been advocating for children's rights since nineteen seventy five we're talking with Marsha because this week the supreme court heard another case that as asking the court to reassess sentencing for juveniles who commit needed murder and Marsha let me ask you I mean you have been deeply involved in this work since nineteen seventy five it seems as if in the past enter fifteen years we've been seeing a kind of rapid pace of change in how the courts are looking at juvenile cases like this even the most extreme ones because I mean wasn't it just in the in the nineties where one of the prevailing theories about juvenile offenders was that of incorrigible superpredators. Yes yeah and I'm glad that US question When I think about the trajectory of my work and the work of my colleagues in this field the cases the the recent cases decided by the US Supreme Court in the last fifteen years I think are very much a response to what happened is a consequence of what we now was the Super Predator myth of the nine hundred ninety this notion that we were coming upon generation of violent teenagers who terrorize our neighborhoods that proved to be false else but before it was recanted by the scientists who came up with it we saw hundreds of thousands of children being tried as adults in the criminal justice system the numbers at some points during the nineteen nineties whereas highest two hundred thousand children a year were being charged as adults and what that meant was is that as they pass through that system if they were convicted they were subject to the full brunt of adults sentencing that included of course the death penalty in some states and it included life without parole or very very long term of your sentences and so when the Supreme Court was finally when they made the decision to reexamine the constitution nowadays the death penalty in two thousand five I think it was very much in part in response to the concern that we had so many youth in this country being convicted and sentenced as adults and also the coincidental emergence of science that had come out really beginning a research net were convened by the Macarthur Foundation in the late in the mid nineteen ninety s that research began to make its way into both the academic conversations As well as I think the public discourse and of course as I said was very foundational on the Supreme Court's decision and so as you you know you you kind of have this comment where you had hundreds of thousands of youth in the criminal justice system and very compelling research that they were different that they were less blameworthy and Enj- those I think those things coming together really did lead to I think what is fair to say revolution in sentencing juveniles in this country yes there's they wanna come back to you with you Marsha because I wondering how should we be looking at at the issue of culpability the question of culpability and here's here's why I ask because I mean you said earlier that there is a deep streak in the American criminal justice system that is is punitive right and so I wonder that's for a reason and bear with me here as I walked through this thought experiment okay because you know for example in case his of sexual assault in college. Now we're not talking about minors here we're talking about college students but I've heard frequently people say well look lots of lots of college students get drunk but even in their inebriated states most of them don't sexually assault people is that I mean that that's an interesting analogy to me because it should the same question be asked of youth offenders that that most seventeen-year-old most sixteen years most fifteen-year-olds even with their developing being brains they don't commit these terrible crimes so shouldn't shouldn't punish there's a reason why punishment is part of the criminal justice system even for juvenile else yes and I don't think that we can ignore the role that punishment plays the role of holding people accountable for what they do is certainly a lament I think of any justice system but I think that the the fact that not everyone does it is not a reason to throw out those or throw away those who do because this is you of culpability is also relevant to our concern I think a constitutional concern for proportionality ensuring that when we do in fact punish people and hold them account double we do it in ways that are proportionate to their culpability for the crimes that they commit so I think we have to focus on those who get caught up in the justice system not those who don't and what we know about these individuals is that again as as youth is adolescence their ability to make mature decisions to make good decisions is poor they are impulsive there impetuous and it would be wrong I think is a matter of constitutional law I really think that's what the US Supreme Court has said in this a series of the last three decisions on sentencing that we simply cannot as a matter of constitutional law treat in the same as we would adults because levels of culpability are less and their levels of maturity and judgment are less and it is very much about as I as I said this concern for proportionality and this comes directly out of how we think about our eighth amendment ban on Kroll unusual punishment Well let's go to Gary Calling from Montgomery Alabama Gary you're on the air thanks for taking me call I'm retired law enforcement of the city of Montgomery actually responded Wanda DC sniper scenes when they pass through Montgomery we're not born human beings we learn how to be a human being and when the child is raising an atmosphere that's inhumane then that's what they know and it's such a young age they don't have the opportunity to control their impulse behavior so if he's sentenced to life in prison and hostile environment they were Steve WHO's calling from New Orleans Steve you're on the air thanks for taking my call when I was eleven years old the person who is still in jail for the crime has the possibility of coming up with role now because of the change in the I mean we received death threats call to my house after the crime saying that if we testified they would come after us dear Steve I'm so sorry to have to interrupt you there is running out of time but thank you so much for your call and for sharing what happened to to how would you respond to both Gary and Steve Well I think they both present very real and important perspectives on what we're talking about And and I think to Gary Point I appreciate his understanding from the position where he is that precisely the kinds of issues that he raised the family background how someone that he and his family experienced but I can say to Steve that Since Miller and Montgomery came down we have had hundreds of men and women released like marshawn individuals who have come back to their communities who are giving back who are many of them working in advocacy or social so to the concern can we manage them coming back into our communities I say yes because I think we're seeing play out in real time every day right now across the country Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings died early this morning in Baltimore he was sixty this is on point.