An Indianan inmate is set to be released from prison after serving six years of a 25-year sentence for murder.
Paul Gingerich, now 18, was a 12-year-old sixth-grader when he helped kill the stepfather of 15-year-old friend Colt Lundy, reports the Daily Mail.
The teens were arrested in 2010 for murdering the stepfather, Phillip Danner. The two boys were reportedly planning on running away from home by driving west toward an undisclosed destination, and Danner tried to stop them. In response, the would-be runaways shot Danner to death with two of his own guns.
Lundy has spent his entire sentence in adult prisons, where he will remain for at least another six years. He is now 21.
Gingerich is believed to hold the record for being the youngest person in Indiana to be sentenced as an adult. However, he was resentenced on Oct. 28 under a state law that allows alternative sentences for juveniles who commit serious crimes.
The sentence was revised to 300 days of incarceration, which could be cut to only 90 days with good behavior and participation in a community transition program, followed by one-year in-home detention and 10 years of probation.
“I know I committed a truly horrible crime and I am sorry for that,” Gingerich said in court, The Indianapolis Star reported. “I will never stop being sorry and I know sorry will never be enough.”
The young convict has spent his time in prison wisely, notes his attorney, Monica Foster, who explains that he has earned a high school diploma and mentored other inmates. The sentencing of children as adults remains controversial, however. Amnesty International, in particular, has been critical of how juveniles are treated by the criminal justice system in the United States.
“Children can and do commit terrible crimes. When they do, they should be held accountable, but in a manner that reflects their special capacity for rehabilitation,” the organization argues. It added that: “... however serious the crime, children, who are still developing physically, mentally and emotionally, do not have the same level of culpability as adults and require special treatment in the criminal justice system appropriate to their youth and immaturity. The primary objectives should be the child's best interests and the potential for his or her successful reintegration into society.”
The human rights watchdog also notes: “However, in the United States the punishment is all too often no different from that given to adults.”