By Melissa Wuske
Ohio Ruling Gives Juvenile Offenders a Chance for Release
“It does not take an entire lifetime for a juvenile offender to earn a first chance to demonstrate that he is not irredeemable,” stated an Ohio Supreme Court decision that eliminated “functional life sentences” for minors. The decision is a response to the United States Supreme Court 2010 decision in Graham v. Florida that determined it was unconstitutional for a child to be sentenced to die in prison for a nonhomicide crime and that all juveniles must receive “meaningful opportunity for release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.”
The Ohio decision revolved around the case of Brandon Moore who was sentenced to 112 years in prison for crimes he committed at age 15; before the new ruling, Moore would’ve had to serve 77 years before being eligible for parole, making it likely he’d have died in prison before having the opportunity for release.
Christians Attacked in China
After church elders of a congregation in China refused a government-mandated land transfer, members of the Communist Party brutally attacked several church members, according to China Aid.
“My son and his friend went out to eat, and when they had finished eating they came out [of the restaurant],” said one of the church’s elders. “Seven or eight gangsters surrotunded them, dragged them from the car, and beat them up. His friend was injured so badly that he could barely open his eyes. He was bleeding profusely, and his nose bridge was fractured.”
The response to the violence further shows the difficulties the church faces: “The police came out after I reported the case, but they colluded with the gangsters. We went to the police station and recorded the incident, but nothing was done about it.”
International Christian Concern (ICC) listed China as one of the worst countries for persecution of Christians.
Urban Teens Learn Farming
Students at John Bowne High School in Flushing, Queens, have an unexpected extracurricular option given their urban setting: an agricultural club. The Aggies, as they’re known, arrive to school early to feed animals, clean the barn, gather eggs, care for plants, and prepare their produce for sale. “We’re trying to give these kids as many career opportunities as possible, but for a lot of them, we’re also home base,” said Steve Perry, a graduate of the program who has gone on to lead it for the past 20 years.
The program offers life skills, confidence, and a change in perspective about food production. Jailene Cajilina, a senior, knew little about agriculture before beginning in the program, even though her parents farmed in their native Ecuador. “Being in a city, you lose touch that someone out there is breaking their back growing these plants, having to slug it out with animals and the weather,” she said.
Who Can Lead Conversations About America’s Issues?
“There’s a vacuum of public leadership in America,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “We know we have problems and that we should talk about them. But there’s no one who can bring us all together.” That statement sums up the findings of a recent survey by LifeWay Research.
When asked, “In America today, who is in the best position to generate a healthy conversation on challenges facing our society?”—23 percent responded the president, 11 percent said ministers, 10 percent said university professors, and 8 percent answered the media. Business leaders, members of Congress, athletes, and musicians all garnered fewer responses. But the leading response, from a third of those surveyed, was “none of these.”
Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (melissaannewuske.com).