A reader writes:
I do not understand the outrage at CNN’s reporting. Can we not discuss how this will impact the guilty? Can we not have any compassion for the guilty? Full disclosure: I served 4 1/2 years in prison for a violent felony when I was 19 years old. Fast-forward 19 years and I am in a Master’s Marriage and Family Therapy program specifically to help people like those two teenagers. Believe it or not, they are people and they will be entering society in one or two years and it’s in society’s interest to rehabilitate them. I believe the first step is having compassion for people who commit crimes. This does not mean we cannot abhor the crime. We must. But we must also get them to take responsibility and understand the impact of their crime. That powerful video showed me that at least Ma’Lik Richmond seemed to understand the severity of his actions. And to everyone who detests these guilty teenagers, never fear; they will be dealing with the repercussions for the rest of their lives, for there is no label worse than “rapist”.
Honestly, I don’t see how this story is the least bit sympathetic to the rapists. If I were one of those boys, the best thing, the most sympathetic thing CNN could have done would be never to have turned this local crime into a national story in the first place. Now, not only does everyone in their hometown know about it, but millions of people across the country.
Isn’t the young men’s narrative a useful one alongside the victim’s? I mean, wouldn’t young men who think they have a bright future or want to create one, take the crushed dreams of the guilty young men as a cautionary tale? The victim’s story alone might not be enough of a compelling story to keep young men out of trouble.