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17 April, 2009

Life imprisonment for children - Disney Prison

As bill to ban life imprisonment for children languishes, inequities of defense persist

"We bishops cannot support policies that treat young offenders as though they are adults. The actions of the most violent youth leave us shocked and frightened and therefore they should be removed from society until they are no longer dangerous. But society must never respond to children who have committed crimes as though they are somehow equal to adults, fully formed in conscience and fully aware of their actions." —United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Children facing prospect of life sentence often have no choice but rely on state's overworked and under-resourced public defenders.

By Eartha Jane Melzer

As legislation to end juvenile-life-without-parole sentences in Michigan remains stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee, some court watchers are warning that the controversial sentence may not be in tune with recent public opinion and is not applied fairly by the justice system.

Currently, nearly 350 people in the state are serving life sentences for crimes committed when they were age 17 or younger. Seventy percent of them are African American, according to the state’s Department of Corrections.

Michigan, which currently spends approximately 20 percent of it’s general budget on corrections, has the third-highest number of inmates serving juvenile-life-without-parole sentences, according to a 2005 study by the Wayne State University School of Social Work.

Wayne State’s study surveyed public sentiment on juvenile crime and punishment and found that a majority did not support juvenile-life-without-parole sentences.
“Michigan residents are unequivocal in their belief that youth should be held accountable for their violent crimes,” the study’s authors wrote, “but that it should be in a manner that recognizes the physiologic, psychological and emotional capabilities of the youths, understanding that these capabilities differ from that of adults. These findings seem to support alternative sentencing arrangements and changes to Michigan’s current policies and legislation.”

When asked what would be an appropriate sentence for a juvenile convicted of homicide, the largest portion of respondents, 39 percent, said they preferred confinement in a juvenile facility then transfer to an adult facility for a life sentence with possibility of parole. Only 5 percent said life in adult prison without parole was the appropriate sentence; 78 percent of those surveyed said that 14-16 year-olds should not be sentenced to adult prison.

Patricia Caruso, director of the state Department of Corrections, supports the legislation to end juvenile-life-without-parole sentencing and told the Capitol News Service last month that juveniles should never come into the adult prison system.
“When you put a 14-year-old in an adult system, you’ve given up.” she said. “Adult prisons are not designed for juveniles.”

The legislation, sponsored by State Sen. Liz Brater, an Ann Arbor Democrat, would ban juvenile-life-without-parole sentences and allow those already serving mandatory life sentences for crimes committed as juveniles to apply for parole after a portion of their sentence is served. The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee in February, where it has been stuck ever since.
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While prison is where mainly children of color end up, white children end up in a corporate created prison of minds called Disneyland. And there is no one to defend them from this either!

How Disney exploits young boys

By Henry A. Giroux,

Casino capitalism may be getting a bad rap in the mainstream media, but the values that nourish it are alive and well in the world of Disney.[1] As reported recently in a front-page article in The New York Times, Disney is in the forefront of finding ways to capitalize on the $50 billion dollars spent worldwide by young boys between the ages of 6 and 14.[2] As part of such efforts, Disney has enlisted the help of educators, anthropologists and a former researcher with "a background in the casino industry" to not only study all aspects of the culture and intimate lives of young boys, but to do so in a way that allows Disney to produce "emotional hooks" that lure young boys into the wonderful world of corporate Disney in order to turn them into enthusiastic consumers.[3]

The potential for lucrative profits to be made off the spending habits and economic influence of kids has certainly not been lost on Disney and a number of other mega corporations, which under the deregulated, privatized, no-holds-barred world of the free market have set out to embed the dynamics of commerce, exchange value and commercial transactions into every aspect of personal and daily life. If Disney had its way, kids' culture would become not merely a new market for the accumulation of capital but a petri dish for producing new commodified subjects. As a group, young people are vulnerable to corporate giants such as Disney, who make every effort "to expand inwardly into the psyche and emotional life of the individual in order to utilize human potential" in the service of a market society.[4] Since children's identities have to be actively directed toward the role of consumers, knowledge, information, entertainment and cultural pedagogy become central in shaping and influencing every waking moment of children's daily lives. In this instance, Disney, with its legion of media holdings, armies of marketers and omnipresent advertisers, set out not to just exploit young boys and other youth for profit; they are actually constructing them as commodities and promoting the concept of childhood as a saleable commodity.

What is particularly disturbing in this scenario is that Disney and a growing number of marketers and advertisers now work with child psychologists and other experts who study young people in order to better understand children's culture so as to develop marketing methods that are more camouflaged, seductive and successful.[5] For example, Disney's recent attempts to "figure out the boys' entertainment market," includes the services of Kelly Pena, described as "the kid whisperer," who in an attempt to understand what makes young boys tick, uses her anthropological skills to convince young boys and their parents to allow her to look into the kids' closets, go shopping with young boys and pay them $75 to be interviewed. Ms. Pena, with no irony intended, prides herself on the fact that "Children ... open up to her."[6]

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  1. The President and CEO of Disney is Robert A. Iger.

  2. heh heh here we go down into the deeper levels of the quagmire. Into the belly of the whale.