Ten Years For Stealing Beer
Adam Bollenbach was 16 when he stole a six-pack of beer from an open garage. Apart from being young, he’s bipolar and suffers from ADHD. His crime merited an apology, repayment for the beer, and enough supervision to assure that he obtained treatment for his mental health problems. So why is this Florida teen serving a ten year sentence?
Months earlier, Adam had been charged as an adult for theft of a bag of potato chips from his school lunchroom. This charge was dropped, but according to the law, once charged as an adult, you cannot be charged as a juvenile.
Adam went before Circuit Judge Ric Howard who admitted that he was using Adam as a teaching tool in front of other juvenile offenders. The result was a sentence of 10 years in prison.
Adam was sentenced for burglarizing a dwelling, but harsh penalties are intended for those who break into homes at night (potentially putting lives, including the burglar’s, at risk), not for unarmed kids who walk into an open garage during the day. Adam’s plight is, in part, the handiwork of the “tough on crime” crowd, who perceive no difference between kids and adults, and who have successfully lobbied compliant legislators to enact laws that punish teenagers instead of helping them. And it’s partly the fault of a judge who is willing to throw a kid away to make an example out of him. From this travesty, other kids are supposed to learn to respect the law?
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