This week, we read two poems written while the authors were incarcerated, and watched a documentary on issues with juvenile incarceration. For your discussion post this week, consider answering one or more of the following questions (you do not need to answer all of these questions):
- How important should research into brain development and decision making in groups be when considering appropriate punishments for juvenile offenders? Do you agree with the clip from the 1990s of Newt Gingrich at the beginning of the documentary that “there are no violent offenses that are juvenile; you shoot somebody, you’re an adult”? Should special considerations be given for juvenile offenders, regardless of the crime or circumstances? Are there situations when they should always be viewed and sentenced as adults?
- Were you surprised to learn that the first poem we read this week, “I Should’ve Taken a Right Turn at Albuquerque” by Dominic Murphy (https://pen.org/shouldve-taken-right-turn-albuquerque/), was written by someone serving a life sentence for first-degree murder? What imagery or lines stood out to you from his poem? What could you relate to, and what was difficult to relate to?
- Think about the classroom of kids we meet at the end of the documentary and the experiences they share about growing up with loved ones in prison and involved with crime. Do they already have too many things stacked against them to be successful in life, or do you think they can make positive choices that could lead to a productive life? What kind of support and resources will they need to be successful? Now think about the incarcerated 17-year-old we meet who already has a three-year-old son and another child on the way. Do you think he has too many things stacked against him at this point to be successful? What support and resources do you think he would need to make and maintain positive changes in his life?