Greg Ousley murdered his parents when he was 14, and is now serving a 60-year sentence. A look at the debate over how we should punish minors for committing violent crimes:
Today there are well more than 2,500 juveniles serving time in adult prisons in the United States — enough, in Indiana’s case, to fill a dedicated Y.I.A. (Youth Incarcerated as Adults) wing at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. The United States is the only Western nation to routinely convict minors as adults, and the practice has set off a growing disquiet even in conservative legal circles. In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty for juveniles was unconstitutional, and just last month it similarly banned mandatory sentencing of life without parole in juvenile homicide cases.
But in this controversy, Greg Ousley is an unlikely representative for sentencing reform. He is not a 16-year-old doing 20 years for his third drug felony or a 13-year-old who found his father’s loaded handgun and shot a playmate. What he is, or was, is a teenage boy who planned and carried out a crime so unthinkable that to most people it is not just a moral transgression but almost a biological one.
“Greg Ousley Is Sorry for Killing His Parents. Is That Enough?” — Scott Anderson, New York Times Magazine