There’s been no decision yet, but some scholars and advocates concerned about the opinion of the "international community" are arguing that a pirate who attacked a US-flag vessel and threatened to kill a hostage should be tried in our juvenile courts because he was under 18 at the time:
Jo Becker, a D.C.-based advocate for Human Rights Watch, said if the pirate suspect is in fact 16 or 17 years old, "he would certainly be entitled to protections under international law that allow for lower culpability of juveniles involved in crimes."
Becker says international law recognizes that people under 18 are "less developed, less mature, and more easily manipulated by adults."
Ideally, Becker said, an underage suspect would be tried in a juvenile court, with special protections given his age. "He would need to have access to family members. Throughout the whole process, there needs to be a special view to his rehabilitation," she added.
Kenneth Randall, dean of the University of Alabama School of Law, said the suspect’s age may not affect where or how he is charged, but is likely to impact his eventual sentence.
"When it comes to international attention, they do have to be mindful of the mitigating circumstances of his age," said Randall.
Oh, please. There are light-years of difference in the development of, say, a 12-year old and someone who’s 18. People in their late teens are often stupid, but they still can judge right from wrong and make an intelligent decision about a course of action. They are responsible for what they do and should be held accountable for adult actions they take — such as hijacking a cargo ship and threatening to kill the captain. And this doesn’t even take into account the fact that the thug grew up in Somalia, where you don’t get the extended childhood we afford our young: by the time he’s hit his late teens there, he’s an adult, and for his crimes he should be tried as one and face the penalties of an adult. He no more a child than any 18-year old we signs up for military service.
The idea of trying this punk in juvenile court brings to mind Charles Dickens’ Mr. Bumble, who said in Oliver Twist, "If the law supposes that… the law is a ass."
(hat tip: Baseball Crank)