District Attorney Ashley Rich,
The purpose of this letter is to speak out in the best interest of 15-year-old Reco McCants, based on a Sept. 25, 2014 Lagniappe article “Vigor High School student with gun to be charged as adult.” The key phrase here is 15-year-old. If our children are to be categorized as a child or adult, based, perhaps solely, on behavior, why do we have laws stipulating specific ages at which one attains the label child or adult?
I challenge all parties to take a deep breath and ask the question: “What is in the best interest of 15-year-old Reco McCants?” At age 15, McCants is a “child” who is incapable of understanding future consequences of imprisonment as an adult, based on his alleged crime. Each person capable of making decisions has something “bad.” As a result, is it logical to label each person as a bad person? No, since we are all a work in progress. The result of metro jail and imprisonment as an adult will be to throw away a child, namely, McCants.
A fall 2014 Southern Poverty Law Center (SCLC) report identified the state of Alabama with the most overcrowded prison system in the country at nearly 200 percent capacity. As a prior volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) in the juvenile court system, I was the only person on a child’s case with enough time, focus, caring, dedication and commitment to go the distance to reunification for the child. To rely on the Mobile juvenile court system to determine the rehabilitative worth of McCants is a fallacy.
In conclusion, it is my opinion that:
• 15-year-old Reco McCants is a child and should receive a complete evaluation regarding the circumstances of his personal life, the life of his family, as well as the circumstances o his alleged crimes, prior to juvenile court hearings.
• Mobile juvenile court hearings are not adequate to determine the rehabilitative worth of McCants and I would suggest that the necessary resources have not been provided for a thorough case evaluation.
• McCants must not be thrown away in an overcrowded Alabama prison system to become another statistic with little or no chance for rehabilitation.
• McCants’ punishment (loss of a high school education with his peers, an adult criminal record as a result of imprisonment and the loss of meaningful future employment prospects, to name a few) will not fit the crime.
Ernest L. Lynch,