Brass knuckles to kid gloves

Barbaric beating deserved far harsher punishment against unrepentant juveniles

 

After a rabid gang of feral youths brutally beat an innocent pedestrian to unconsciousness and multiple injuries here March 1, they made a cell-phone video bragging about it.

Another celebratory video may be in order, after the juvenile court system slapped their wrists last Friday.

One got a mere three years' probation; a second was acquitted altogether; and a third received but 18 to 24 months in a juvenile facility.

Despite their conspiratorial actions, the brazen video, their eager claims of gang membership and various confessions to police, Judge Willie Saunders dismissed criminal street-gang activity charges against the youths. Unbelievable.

The evidence as to whether Joshua Plowright, 15, was even present at the savage beating of 16-year-old Terence Reese was weak and conflicting. His acquittal is understandable.

But probation for another? And just a couple of years at the max for another? Outrageous.

This is why all five suspects should have been tried in adult court. Anyone participating in such an act of barbarism to any degree whatsoever should be put away for years, if not decades.

Thankfully, the remaining two will be adjudicated in Superior Court. But the juvenile court system was insistent on working its particular magic on these three -- determining, for example, that suspects Ross Nipple, 15 (18 to 24 months), and Daniel Musick, 15 (probation), were "in need of treatment."

What gobbledygook. The one in need of treatment has been the victim, Terence Reese, who suffered a seriously broken jaw among other injuries in what appeared to be a brass-knuckle attack.

According to police, and confirmed from courthouse observation, most of these youths appear blatantly unrepentant. Their kid-gloves treatment in juvenile court surely hasn't helped.

Nor can it help law enforcement officers in their painstaking efforts to make the streets of Augusta safe.

We understand the time-honored philosophy of juvenile court: The focus is on the offender and his or her rehabilitation. Occasionally it even works. We pray it does in this case -- and we suggest the entire community watch to see if it does.

But the nature of juvenile offenders and their offenses has changed markedly over the decades, and the system's poor-little-baby approach doesn't wash anymore. Indeed, it makes society less safe.

And it drives law enforcement officers nuts.

"I get disgusted so much in juvenile court," one law enforcement officer told us. "That's a great part of our problem. There is no message sent up there (to juveniles). These juveniles get away with murder. It is unreal."

Anyone who thinks these toughs are children in need of care needs to see what they did to a young man minding his own business.

On March 1, Terence Reese was inhumanly pounded to a pulp.

More recently, justice took a pounding.

Accused gang members get rulings

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