Only two thirteen-year-olds have been sentenced to life without parole for a non-homicide offence. Joe Sullivan, one of them was sent to an adult prison, where he was victimized by older inmates. He was accused of raping a 72-year old woman after he and the other two boys had stolen from her house earlier that day. Joe was convicted in a one-day trial. Equal Justice Initiative lawyers have challenged his case as cruel and unusual, and even though Joe may be guilty, ethical questions surround his case.
First, biological evidence collected from the victim was not presented at trial and was destroyed before it could be subjected to DNA testing. Secondly, Joe was represented by a non-eligible Florida lawyer, who did not make an opening statement nor object to voice recognition exercise that was conducted by a blindfolded victim. Lawyer Douglas Berman also opposed that the Florida justice system did not give the case the focus it needed, and thus giving a compromised judgment.
The Ethics of Care is a normative ethical theory that holds that moral action centres on interpersonal relationships and care or benevolence as a virtue (Wikipedia). Feminists developed it in the twentieth century. It helps law enforcement officers to identify issues and to deal with them with compassion, by building a rapport with the community.
A discriminatory purpose motivates facially neutral laws and requirements to prove of motive or intent in cases of discrimination. Examples are, “women affected by pregnancy…the same for all employment-related purposes…as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work” (protects women from discrimination in employment).
Held, V. (2006). The Ethics of Care: Personal, Political and Global. Oxford University Press on Demand.
Fitzpatrick, B. T. (2001). Strict Scrutiny of Facially Race-Neutral State Action and the Texas Ten Percent Plan. Baylor L. Rev., 53, 289
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