At 16, Dietrick Mitchell was a troubled boy. His aunt Linda says Dietrick was troubled from age 8, when she called his school to report that his mother -- her sister -- was a drug abuser who neglected and abused her children.
As a young teenager, Dietrick got in trouble for theft, alcohol use and some other minor offenses. Then on August 9, 1991, he made a terrible mistake.
After drinking all day with an 18-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, Dietrick, who didn't have a driver's license, got behind the wheel of a car and drove across Denver. Trying to evade a policeman who was following him, he turned a corner. He took his eyes off the road momentarily and hit a pedestrian, 16-year-old Danny Goetsch. Dietrick fled the scene. A day later, Danny was dead.
When Dietrick confessed to his aunt what he had done, she took him to the police station, telling him what happened was an accident and that he should face the consequences.
"We didn't get an attorney," Linda Mitchell said. "The next thing I knew, he was on television being tried as an adult for murder."
At 17, after spending a year awaiting trial in the county jail, Dietrick Mitchell was convicted of first degree murder with extreme indifference. He refused a 40-year plea bargain agreement from the District Attorney's Office because he and his aunt did not believe he would be convicted of murder.
Prosecutors painted him as a gang member, a characterization Mitchell and his aunt both denied. An expert on gangs testified at the trial that no colors were involved and that though there were drive-by shootings among gangs at the time, nobody had used a car as a weapon and considered it a gang hit. The coroner testified that based on the injuries sustained by Goetsch, it appeared Dietrick was driving at about 30 miles per hour.
Dietrick Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in an adult penitentiary. That was 13 years ago. Dietrick now is 30. If he lives to be 70, Colorado taxpayers will pay another $2 million, on top of an estimated $650,000 already spent, to jail him until he dies.
"He was in maximum security, behind glass, for six years," said Linda Mitchell. "For our lawmakers to allow these kids' lives to be thrown away is a crime.
"You've already lost one life, then you throw away another one."
The above is a lengthy excerpt (it's a long article worth reading) from Kathryn Eastburn's "Life Without Life: Should kids be punished as adults in Colorado's justice system?" (Colorado Springs Independent) and was sent in by Cedric.
Toni e-mails to note Kellie Shoemaker's "Time to Mobilize" (Eugene Weekly):
Planned Parenthood typically refrains from asserting the sky is falling or the bridge is burning. But as of July 1, the sky is holding precariously above us and the bridge has a match flickering close to its wooden planks.
On the afternoon before Independence Day weekend -- a holiday in which we celebrate and honor freedom -- Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced that she would resign from the highest court in the nation effective on the confirmation of her successor. Because Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest voluntary reproductive health organization, we know firsthand that nothing matters more for women's independent freedom, health, lives and safety than the justice appointed to be her replacement.
Justice O'Connor's announcement marked the end of the longest period since the 1820s without a Supreme Court resignation, and the first Supreme Court nominee of President Bush.
This is where the bridge starts to smolder.
Thirty-three years ago, a clear majority (7-2) voted in favor of Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that guaranteed legal access to abortion for women nationwide. Since then, the makeup of the Court has changed dramatically.
When Planned Parenthood v. Casey reached the Court in 1992, only two remaining justices supported Roe in its entirety. In 2000, when the Supreme Court reviewed Stenberg v. Carhart, four of the nine justices made it clear that they support either overturning Roe v. Wade or eliminating the protections guaranteeing that women's health and lives are paramount.
With Justice O'Connor's resignation, there remain only four justices on the court who have ruled to protect women's health and safety.
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