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Prison for teen who lit "agender" youth's skirt on fire thwarts healing

Oct 23, 2014

from the article by Sue Burrell on HuffPost:

The news of Richard Thomas' seven-year prison sentence raises fresh questions about how the justice system intervenes in dangerous, but clearly adolescent behavior. Richard, age 16, was prosecuted in a California adult court after setting on fire the skirt of 18-year-old "Sasha" Fleischman, who was asleep on a local bus. Sasha identifies as "agender" meaning neither male nor female. Three days after the incident, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office charged Richard as an adult, alleging assault and aggravated mayhem as hate crimes. The charging decision completely bypassed the juvenile court system....

Significantly, Richard felt terrible about what had happened. Almost immediately, he publicly expressed remorse and wrote a letter of apology to Sasha. It was also clear that Sasha and Sasha's family were open to creating a healing process and a public dialogue about what had happened. 

Sasha's mother went to the District Attorney to ask that a restorative justice process be pursued but was refused. In a media statement at the time of sentencing, Sasha's mother expressed relief that Sasha would not have to go to trial, but also said "...we really feel for Richard and his family. Because of what seems like a childish, impulsive, tragic lack of judgment on the part of Richard, he and his family are going to be suffering from this." She went on to say, "A 16-year-old's actions -- however severe the results -- don't have any place in the adult judicial system."

Read the whole article.

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