[WW] The Young Murderers of James Bulger

In February of 1993, a CCTV camera caught a 2 year old boy being led down a shopping mall by a 10 year old. The pair are seen meeting up with another 10 year old boy. What onlookers did not know was that the 2 year old was being led away from his mother who was at a butcher shop in the mall. This was the last footage of James Bulger before he was murdered.

Photo courtesy of Mirror UK

The murderers, 10 year old Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, were arrested after Bulger's body was found mutilated by a railroad track. Bulger had been beaten to death by the pair and his body was dumped by the railway. There was no doubt that Venables and Thompson had killed Bulger, but the courts had to prove whether they understood the right or wrong of their actions. In 1993, laws in Britain stated that 10-14 year old's could not be held legally responsible for their actions and they could not be sentenced to prison. Therefore, when the jury found the two guilty of first degree murder, the two were sent to a secure housing unit.

Britain was angered with the trial decision as they felt that the two did not receive a severe enough punishment. The judge and the secure housing unit believed that these two boys did not need punishment per say, but to be detained in a place where the boys would be taken care of and adults would be able to exact authority. This was fueled by the idea that the two boys came from broken families, displayed deviant behaviour, and needed structure in their lives. It further angered the public when it was found that during their time at the secured housing, Venables was allowed to leave the facility with his dad and to play soccer. Thompson was able to visit shopping malls. The staff at the secure unit claimed that allowing mobility for these offenders prepared them to transition back into society.

In 2001, the parole board found that the boys no longer posed as threats to public safety and were released after spending eight years in the secure unit. They were released with conditions such as not being allowed to contact each other or the Bulger's family. They were given new identities and left to live their own lives. Some who attempted to identify the two boys had been sentenced to prison.

After their release, although the boys have been noted to have completed their education, Venables was arrested multiple times for violating his release conditions and later for possession and distribution of child pornography in 2010.

So here is a question for my readers. Do you feel that justice was served and whether the boys deserved their sentence? Should the public leave these two alone?

I am glad that Canadian laws have learned from our British law counterparts in understanding that age should not necessarily bar a child from being tried as an adult. This incident stresses the idea of the effects on broken homes and the allowance for children to wander and associate themselves with deviance. Of course, we cannot eliminate any mental history that these children may have which we will never know or understand as this happened a long time ago and even then the publication bans were strict.

There is an internal struggle within me because I too am angered by the idea that people who have committed a horrific crime have not been "punished". Some may remind me that they are 10, but I'm rather positive 10 year old's understand that taking a child and killing them is not something virtuous. I do feel that despite the idealistic goals of the secure unit in trying to give the boys structure, I hope (for everyone's sake) that their therapy sessions while detainment allowed for pinpointing the source of their aggression and can help to prevent something like this from happening. Considering Venables came out to further re-offend, I can safely say that therapy did not deter these children. It angers me because the secure unit staff were saying that the program allowed youth to find their self-worth and I hardly think that's an issue when such a thought out horrific act can only be associated with self-entitled individuals.

It's incredibly scary that young kids are capable of such horrific things and there continues to be a divide on how legally responsible infants or young adults should be for their actions.

Let me know what you think!

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