In the United States, each year, there are numerous juvenile delinquents who are given mandatory life prison sentences. This paper will explain how a troubled boy at the age of 15 winds up being convicted, receiving one of the harshest punishments in the United States, and what actions may prevent future occurrence of this event happening to the lives of other delinquent youth.
In a recent news story reported by Hanson (2013), Travion Blount was convicted and sentenced to six life terms. He did not commit homicide, rape, or any sort of sexual assault. He was convicted of 51 felony charges which included the illegal use of a firearm, robbery, and abduction. Blount’s advocates argue his six life sentences for an armed robbery violates the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment. How, may you ask, did a 15 year old wind up with such an atrocious sentence? Here is a summary of what happened.
Hanson (2013) narrates that on Sept. 23, 2006, Travion Blount, Morris Downing and David Nichols, members of the Crips gang, drove to a house near a Norfolk Navy base neighborhood in Virginia, where they believed a dealer lived with a few roommates. They pulled guns, stole money and some pot. Police caught all three within a week. Nichols and Downing, both 18 and legally adults, pleaded guilty and received 10 and 13 years. They were required to testify against Blount to receive fewer years in prison. Blount, who pleaded not guilty was convicted and punished with six life terms.
Blount has been described from his childhood as being shy and introverted. He skipped school frequently. His parents were divorced, both had jobs, and spend little time with Blount. Blount met Downing who taught him the gang life-style while hanging out on the street corners of Park Place, Virginia. Blount idolized him, and at the age of 11 became a member of the Crips, learning how to dress, act, and be like them. Two social process theories come to mind on what caused Blount’s transformation: differential association theory and social control theory. Bartollas and Miller (2014) posit that the differential association theory is based on criminals and juvenile delinquents who learn from them. Also Church, Wharton, and Taylor (2008) say that the nature of a child’s peer relationships, social and family surroundings and self-image are factors associated with deviant behavior. This may explain why Blount got involved in criminal behavior. Blount was taught his gang’s basic values, skills, norms, attitudes, and beliefs. This became his way of life, which was normal for him.
In addition, Bartollas and Miller (2014) state that according to Travis Hirschi’se social control theory, examination must be made on the individual’s ties to conventional society. Hirschi linked delinquent behavior to the bonds that an individual has with his family and school. If those bonds are not strong, the individual may follow people who he believes have his back and who he...