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Maryland still needs a felony murder statute

Slain officer Amy Caprio's mother and the Baltimore County State's Attorney both commented after a jury found 17-year-old Dawnta Harris guilty of felony murder.

Lila Meadows recently attempted to make a case for abolishing felony murder, especially for juveniles (“Abolish felony murder in Maryland,” June 7). Her argument is specious.

Her first statement is that Maryland’s parole system is broken for those serving life sentences but fails to back it up with any evidence. She seems to have an issue that life sentences require those sentenced to them to actually serve them. Parole should absolutely be considered for those who truly rehabilitate themselves and want to atone for their deeds once released from prison. However, it should not be automatic.

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Ms. Meadow is correct on the doctrine of foreseeability. This doctrine is entirely logical and as it should be. She states that “when individuals commit felonies, they typically aren’t engaging in the type of rational thought that lends itself to foreseeability,” as if this is an excuse for their behavior. Unless they are truly insane, their rationality of thought is immaterial. In this country, we don’t punish thought (at least not yet), we punish actions. It is not rocket science to deduce that if one engages in dangerous activity, negative consequences may result. The fact that one does not envision all the possible consequences does not absolve one of the results of their actions.

“Juvenile brain development lags behind that of an adult,” she further states. As an educator who has worked with adolescents on a daily basis for almost 30 years, I can verify that this is unequivocally true when it comes to cognitive development. In fact, it is commonly known that the brain does not fully develop in some cases until the age of 25. However, once again, this is irrelevant. For it should also be noted that in the thousands of adolescents I have known, not one — not one — was incapable of discerning the difference between right and wrong.

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Lastly, Ms. Meadow speaks to culpability, as if all involved are not culpable. To suggest that they did not contribute to a murder is illogical. Had they not engaged in felonious activities, the murder would not have occurred. To suggest otherwise stretches the bounds of credulity. If participants expect to share in the positive rewards of their actions, they should be prepared to share in the negative consequences also.

The charge of felony murder is appropriate and necessary to maintain a civilized society.

Charles St. Clair, Jarrettsville

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