" Here emphasis is not placed on punishment and revenge, but instead on rehabilitation and resocialization. Different in the USA. (...)"

How effective is it? What is the recidivism rate
for violent offenders? It is one thing to say you are going to rehabilitate and resocialise, another to actually do it.

Not to mention that every german or half german (or one that had a german shepherd dog) that has been convicted in the USA of murder is, off course, innocent and a victim of the devilish american legal system no matter how crystal clear the case might be. It is enough in german TV to show the german mother wailing about that her son would have never done such a thing to convince every german that this must be a conspiracy, especially if the convicted had been given the death penalty.

Conservative hardliners are calling for the death penalty for juveniles? Bullshit. I don't know who that 'conservative columnist' writing for the Washington Times is. I read the paper every day. But I don't disagree with anything in the quote. Yes, some do 'deserve' to be "grilled, gassed.." (that last should hit a nerve, eh?). We don't execute juveniles. We do, however, execute the mentally deficient.

Which would include the writer of the Spiegel piece.


"It is one thing to say you are going to rehabilitate and resocialise, another to actually do it."

My Junkie German nephew has committed a string of B&Es to support his heroine addiction. His "therapy" always earns him a continuance of his trial.

He now has Hepatitis C. It only a matter of time before the grim reaper gets him. He will die without ever serving time.

I also think the Spiegel piece is (as usual) one-sided and exaggerated. But, speaking as an American, there's just no denying that penalties in our criminal justice system are harsher than in any other civilized country. Do we really have to send people under 18 to prison for life, especially for crimes other than murder? I would like us to stop giving ammunition to hostile critics like Spiegel.

@ Matt:

I think you make an interesting point. Maybe the US justice system is too harsh in some respects. Intelligent people could certainly debate that. (I do think China has harsher penalties though.) The point is that SPIEGEL is not even attempting to objectively report on the situation. Even if the US did reduce sentencing to appease the critics, the people at SPIEGEL would search out and find something else extreme to write about. In other words, the US should not make policy in order to curry favor with those who harbor such bias and who are completely uninterested in fair or constructive criticism.

(OT) Erik over at No Pasaran is linking to a story from Liberation that Schroeder has accepted a job at Merrill Lynch. So after years of mocking American capitalism, he's going to participate in the very thing he claimed to despise. Schroeder the bloodsucker!

"there's just no denying that penalties in our criminal justice system are harsher than in any other civilized country."

Matt, I don't think you mean anything insulting by this comment, but it is bigoted and neo-imperialistic when it is knowingly used. We see it a lot in European, not just German criticisms of the US. The assumption is that countries like India and China with harsh criminal penalties are somehow less civilized than European countries. From a historical perspective it is silly, of course, but even now, considering how far Europe lags behind China or India in areas such as political integration, it's pretty sad.


The U.S. is a pioneer in treating juvenile criminals differently from adult criminals. Most states have a separate juvenile court that is dedicated towards reforming juvenile criminals and returning them to society. As late as 1945, Germany was hanging children for such crimes as treason, looting and military desertion.
Germany also displayed rage over Abu Ghrab, where a 19 year old private lead suspected terrorists on a dog leash, but displayed total indifference to the discovery that Saddam Hussein had a separate "children's prison." So much for German progressivism!

All children in the US are still initially tried in the juvenile system. A juvenile may not be incarcerated past his 21st birthday, no matter what crime he or she committed.

However, the “gangstah” culture took over in the late 80s. Suddenly, juveniles were committing horrific crimes. Many of these harden juveniles were contemptuous of trial system that was initially set up to protect and rehabilitate them. Why not commit murder if you know that you are going to be free after age 21.

In response to this dilemma, most states created Juvenile Transfer Statutes. If a Juvenile commits a horrific crime of violence, (murder, mayhem, rape, assault with a firearm, etc.) the Juvenile Court judge may hold a hearing to determine whether the child can be rehabilitated. If the Court determines that the child can not be rehabilitated, then he is transferred to the adult system. In the adult system, a child criminal may be exposed to harsh sentences, depending on the nature of the crime.

Don’t worry, Germany is usually 20 years behind the U.S. in social trends. There has already been a Columbine style massacre in Erfurt. In a matter of time, there will be juvenile gangs that represent the bloods or they crypts.


>... considering how far Europe lags behind China or India in areas such as political integration ...

What do you mean by that?

IMO, there´s nothing wrong with this article. Of course, the example is unusual and not representative. But it has happened, and it is important to report these cases and to keep them in mind.

"In general" there´s nothing wrong with the death penalty, but the problem are the few "extreme and not representative" cases where it happens to an innocent person. It´s the same with the juvenile death penalty and unlimited prison terms for juveniles: Most of these kids probably knew exactly what they were doing. But then again, there are the few exceptions.

In this matter, the Spiegel´s criticism is absolutely legitimate (whether you wholly agree with it is another question). It is not "biased" or "exaggerated" to say that the US legal system is very harsh; most Americans probably would agree and say that it´s intended to be this way.

Btw, I think that "grilled" is mistranslated in the Spiegel article: In English, "grilled" refers to death from electricity. The German "gegrillt" means "barbequed", which probably even the cited WashTimes columnist wouldn´t suggest as an appropriate way to send someone to hell.

A few points.
1. Okay, if you don't like the expression "civilized countries," would you accept "western democracies"? Regardless of China's remarkable ancient civilization and recent economic advances, I still don't want our legal system to be similar to that of a repressive authoritarian state. No other western democracy imprisons people for as long as we do or uses the death penalty as extensively as we do (most others have abolished it in peacetime). And btw the system is not well administered: a scandal in Illinois over death sentences handed down to defendants who were later exonerated by a group of journalism students forced the governor to intitiate a moratorium on executions. That kind of thing looks bad, and in fact is bad.
2. The fact that our juvenile justice system used to be better than other countries' is not the issue; its current practices are a legitimate target of criticism. The trend toward giving the same sentences to minors as to adults is unjust because, on average, their emotional and psychological development is not complete. And I note that even in the correction to the Spiegel article, it is acknowledged that some 16% of juveniles sentenced to life imprisonment were -not- convicted of murder.

Republics should avoid draconian punishments. If we don't like being villified by hostile outsiders like Spiegel, we should put our house in order.

"Republics should avoid draconian punishments"
--and why is that? I rather think that in those societies which rely on the self-discipline and moral inhibitions of their people, instead of on an omnipresent police, the punishments need to be the more severe, swift and terrifying, pour encourager les autres.

This is the template used by the Left be they in the US or in Germany. It really does not change very much.

Of course, what the Germans choose to do domestically is their chose. What is interesting is how they feel Americans should not have the same rights to manage their domestic affairs.

Again we see a difference in how values are reflected by the actions of the government. It really does not matter what the topic happens to be.

There are several differences. The first is in the actually governing. Most individuals convicted of crimes in the US are done so at the local level. This means in state courts. The punishment of those who are convicted are the standards of the community. They reflect local values of fairness and punishment. Sentences differ greatly from state to state.

SPON is just an example of the spin much of the M$M uses to attack the US. I guess they have grown a bit weary of Kyoto as it is failing flat within Europe, Iraq has moved to the back burner for now, etc. So a good topic is how just the social welfare state is with it legal system when compared to those awful Americans.

This is about protecting human rights. The other article was about protecting the unemployed.

Want bet some time soon there is going to an article on health care.

As the Germans feel they have no control over their futures, it can be assumed they have no control over their lives. When one thinks like this it is easy to feel they also have no responsibility for their choices and actions. So why should others be held responsible for their actions.

As to what the Germans think – short answer – Who cares.

@ Matt

I am sure there are statistics available from a Google Search that show how drastically juvenile violent crime rose during the late 80s and early 90s. I am sure there are also statistics that correlate that juvenile violent crime decreased when stronger sentences were handed out to juvenile offenders during the late 90s and 00s.

I am sure that liberals will argue that juvenile violent crime decreased not because of stronger sentences but because of a good economy and midnight basketball.

However, what our friends in Germany or liberals in the U.S. have trouble dealing with is the fact that there is such a thing as a child sociopath. I am sure Memhet falls under this category.

Here in the Northeast, most police and legal professionals are familiar with the story of Greg Price.

Greg was a chubby 15 year-old African American whose family attained the American dream and purchased a house in a middle class neighborhood in Providence, RI. Greg was a 250 LB, affable 15 year-old that resembled Fat Albert.

A tragedy hit the neighborhood. The widow next door was discovered at home, strangled. The Police did not have any clue who could have committed the crime. Then other neighbors, a divorcee and her 15 year old daughter, were also discovered strangled. Evidence pointed to Greg Price.

At this time, Rhode Island did not have a Juvenile Transfer Statute. Greg was tried in Juvenile Court and was found guilty of all three murders. He was sentenced to the maximum allowed at the time: to stay in a Youth Detention facility until he turned 21 years-old.

During his rehabilitation at the Youth Detention facility, a majority of his treating psychiatrist were under the opinion that Greg was a full blown sociopath with no moral scruples and that if he were ever allowed back into society, he would kill again.

On his 21st birthday, the Governor of Rhode Island “committed “ Greg to the state prison for the criminally insane. Whether the Governor had the authority to do this was never questioned, even by the ACLU. Greg was such a threat to society that his “legal rights” did not matter.

Neither liberals in Germany or the U.S. acknowledge that there are juvenile sociopaths that are dangers to our society. Such juveniles are better off locked up in a state prison or in a prisoner for the criminally insane.

We need not have to applogize to any European or German critics because we are making our society safe.

>>During his rehabilitation at the Youth Detention facility, a majority of his treating psychiatrist were under the opinion that Greg was a full blown sociopath with no moral scruples

And let's talk about sex offenders. The ones the U.S. justice system keeps letting out of jail. That man in Florida who buried Jessica Lundsford alive after sexually molesting her for 3 days? The man that may once again walk out a free man because the police missed a technicality? The man whose family knew the whole time she was there and lied to the police but can't be prosecuted?

Talk to me about the death penalty.

I don't think it is morally defensible to execute the criminally insane. They are, after all, insane and cannot be held accountable for their behavior. Lock them up till the end of time.

But that man who killed that little girl and his ilk?


@ fuchur

"IMO, there´s nothing wrong with this article. Of course, the example is unusual and not representative. But it has happened, and it is important to report these cases and to keep them in mind."

Absolutely. But that isn't the problem with this article. The problem is that it is presented as representative of the American "juvenile justice system" when it is very clearly not. It is very clearly an extreme anomaly.

Consider this: How would you feel if a journalist in the US took the case of Mehmet A. and wrote an article on the "German justice system" and how, based on this one case, the entire German system is unfair and uncaring towards victims of crimes. Would you feel that American readers were getting a fair and balanced view of German justice? Of course not! So how can you defend this garbage?

The Kane story is clearly an extreme case and that certainly is worthy of coverage, but it should be presented as such. Unfortunately, SPIEGEL ONLINE does not present it that way and that is the core of the issue and the fundamental problem here. They do exactly the same thing in the Kannapolis piece. They tell readers one horror story and make it seem representative of "unemployment in America." Its the same MO. Why do you insist on defending these people fuchur? Does reality really hurt that much???

The discussion here as to whether the juvenile criminal penalties in the U.S. are to harsh or not focuses too much on comparisons to other countries. The U.S. is a democracy, so if juvenile penalties in the U.S. are higher than in Germany, it is because the People of the United States want them that way. The situation in, say, China is different because the People there have little say in the matter. (Actually, the same is likely true of Germany.)

That Spiegel's article has led to a discussion of the U.S. juvenile detention system on this blog just goes to show how effective such Leftist incitements are. The authors of the Spiegel article don't care a bit about juveniles in the U.S. They are simply looking for an opportunity to demonize the U.S. and give their core readership another fix of moral superiority.

Implicit in the article is the idea that the "morally superior" Europeans have the right -- or even duty -- to decide how strict U.S. criminal penalties should be. Remember, they also want to abolish the death penalty in the U.S. and dictate our environmental law, defence policy and our level of foreign aid.

It bears repeating. The U.S. is a democracy. Criminal penalties in the U.S. should be no area of concern whatsoever for Europeans. The Spiegel article is gratuitous America bashing and shows that totalitarian impulses are alive and well where we thought they had been rooted out.

You seldom find paleo-liberals like Friederike Freiburg writing such smugly self-righteous pieces about the criminal justice system in the US anymore. Unlike Germany, we have significant alternatives to the mainstream media types who preen themselves on their superior "virtue." These alternative voices have pointed out the utter, hypocritical indifference of the Freiburg's of the world to the suffering of the victims of violent criminals. Why should these moralistic poseurs care? The victims of violent crime don't usually live in the ivory towers of academia where the "Friedensforscher" hang out, or in the well-policed neighborhoods of the upper class politically correct. They are overwhelmingly poor, anonymous, and, of course, since they are dead, unlikely to complain to much about the disproportionate "love" and "concern" of the Freiburgs of the world for their murderers and their utter indifference to the victims. The alternative voices have also pointed out that the results of spending billions of dollars over the decades on the "rehabilitation and resocialization" Freiburg refers to have been paltry at best, in the US as elsewhere. The risk to society of allowing violent criminals to freely roam the streets after a few years of "rehabilitation" is out of all proportion to any conceivable social benefit. The problem is that the victims are poor and faceless, while the criminals are constantly lionized and fawned over by the professionally virtuous. Never fear. Once the Freiburgs of the world start becoming the victims of violent criminals they will quickly change their tune. I'm opposed to capital punishment because, after all, the state is the most efficient murderer, but I have no problem with locking up violent criminals.

"We do, however, execute the mentally deficient."

Nice chip shot, Pamela, but not strictly true. The cover boy for this argument is usually the Arkansas murderer whom Bill Clinton allowed to be executed during the 1992 Presidential election. The fact is that he was of normal intelligence when he committed his crimes. When he was about to be caught he tried to blow his brains out and half succeeded.

So at his trial and punishment he wasn't all there - due only to his own actions.

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