On his way to prison for manslaughter, Joshua Ladson barely looked up.
He slouched in a Miami-Dade courtroom jury box Friday, glaring at the bereaved. Through their tears and applause, Ladson never winced. When given a chance to speak, he said nothing.
What happened took place in 2006, when the shooter was 15 and the victim 14. Giovanny Mayoral, a Cuban American boy, rode his dirt-bike motorcycle too close to the armed black youth. In what I suppose was an attempt to avenge the act of disrespect, Ladson opened fire, hitting the younger boy in the back as he rode away.
An unspeakable tragedy it was, which made me think about the youthful offenders. There must be a time when they can still be reached, when the right person or circumstances can help them to choose a better path. Perhaps on sentencing day it was too late for the 18-year-old Ladson. He'd already spent two and a half years in jail awaiting this day when all he could do is silently glare at the victim's family.
The other idea that came to mind is the inevitability of this kind of violence repeating itself over and over again. One of the best depictions of it I've seen was on The Wire. Black kids growing up in the projects can too easily be seduced by the lifestyle. In the first season we saw the characters D'Angelo and Wallace try to come to terms with the violence in their lives, only one of them succeeding. I found it quite touching and ample reason for us to seek rehabilitation rather than punishment. What's your opinion? Is the availability of guns a factor? Is the easy access to guns by these young gangsters the price we pay for preserving the 2nd Amendment? Or is there no connection at all?
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