Do Hate Crimes Deserve Leniency?

So this happened:

The first ever Federal conviction for a hate based crime has been handed down in America.

Joshua Vallum, 29, was sentenced to 49 years in prison for the 2015 murder of Mercedes Williamson, 17.

Joshua got off lucky. He could/should have received a life sentence without parole but both the prosecution and the defence agreed on a lesser sentence due to Joshua’s upbringing of neglect among other things.

Public defender Ellen Allred outlined how “Vallum lived through a childhood that was characterised by abandonment and neglect.”

“It’s difficult to image how a mother could lock a two- or three-year-old child in a room for hours on end while adults did drugs.”

The judge told the court: “The taking of a human life because a person has a particular gender identity is particularly heinous and cannot be tolerated in an enlightened society.”

In apologising for the murder, Joshua said: “Every day, I live with the guilt and regret of my actions.

“If I could bring back Mercedes by giving up my life, I would gladly do so.”

Vallum murdered Williamson because he was scared that his fellow Latin Kings gang members would discover their relationship and kill both of them because the gang forbids gay sex.

It’s a terrible situation to say the least. The bottom line: someone murdered someone. Period.

But this is the first Federal Hate Crime and don’t we always say/hear that hate is taught? Well that seems to be the tilt both the defense and prosecutors are taking. Joshua’s crime is not entirely his fault. His upbringing and extreme conditions created that hate, or at the very least planted the seed.

So, what do we think? Do we agree? Is it as simple as blaming the parents…or lack there of? If we do take this into consideration, where does it end? We could blame all past generations all the way back to Adam and Eve if we tried hard enough, which ultimately leaves God as the only one to blame. But I digress.

Should criminals of hate crimes be given leniency due to social and familial influence or are we  taking a slippery slope to where we see all people convicted of committing crimes, hate and otherwise, getting a slap on the wrist and a hug?



photo credit: Associated Press

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