Your teenage years are a time for mistakes. It is a time when we think we know everything, that we are about to inherit the earth, that the older generation do not know what they are doing and it is time to hand over the reins to a younger, smarter, more dynamic generation.
You drink too much, have relationships with the wrong people, worry about fashion, fitting in, trying to find your place in the world. You gravitate toward likeminded people. Some join gangs, some clubs, others embrace religion. It is a time in life when you feel it is time to embrace adulthood and make decisions.
If you make a mistake as a young person, depending on what it is, you can, as a right minded individual, correct it; make better choices in the future. That is life.
What about something criminal? In our society, here in the west, there has been, due to the growth of social and omnipresent media, much coverage of crimes against children, women and terrorist acts. The incidents of pedophilia have grown to such an extent that they are almost commonplace. Some of the crimes are so reprehensible, it turns the stomach to even read about them. The men who perpetuate such crimes elicit a visceral response in most people. There is a train of thought that such people can be rehabilitated or helped somehow. Maybe.
There has been many reports of sexual violence toward women. Generally speaking an individual convicted of a sexual crime is somewhat of a pariah in society. Even so, as before, there are those who believe that such people can be reintegrated into society.
The average sentence for a person convicted of one of the mentioned crimes is between five and ten years. Not a long time, but long enough for a person to decide to change their life; choose a different path.
This week in the UK a nineteen year old lad was convicted of plotting to behead a member of the military or a person of the uniformed services. He had a desire to make a splash, a statement, as a Jihadist supporter. Thankfully he was caught before he had a chance to commit the crime. At nineteen he has time on his side. Time to get his mind right, see the error of his ways, think about his life decisions. This, most would agree, is a good thing.
Unfortunately such is the fear of Isis and radical Muslims and those who would commit to jihadism, that society demands stern punishment for those who would embrace it. These misguided youth who flee to join the ‘holy’ war strike fear into the liberal, right thinking masses. For his hubris this lad was sentenced for the desire of wanting to commit a horrible crime – not committing the crime – to twenty-two years in prison. Twenty-two.
He no doubt had every intention of carrying out the crime, yet at nineteen years old can he truly be so lost that the only course of action was a sentence longer than his present lifespan? Should intention to carry out a crime really carry a longer sentence than committing a crime? If that is the case, what detterent is there not to commit the crime?