Stevenson geht es dabei nicht darum, in schrillem Ton "das System" anzuprangern, sondern zu verdeutlichen, dass die Gesellschaft, die sich ein solches Justizsystem gibt, letztlich sich selbst deformiert, verletzt und unmenschlich macht
Stevenson zeigt die Unmenschlichkeit der Gesetze und Regeln, die auf Erbarmungslosigkeit und Rache gründen, mit denen etwa Kinder nach Erwachsenenstrafrecht verurteilt und Menschen mit geistiger Behinderung hingerichtet werden können. Es wird klar, dass es aufgrund der Privatisierung der Gefängnisse ein wirtschaftliches Interesse an Ausdehnung (und daher auf besonders "harte" Gesetze und Strafen) anstatt auf Resozialisierung gibt. Und es wird deutlich, wie sehr der Atem des unaufgearbeiteten und immer noch agilen Rassismus das Rechtssystem durchzieht.
Ein Beispiel ist die Geschichte von Ian Manuel.
"In 1990, Ian Manuel and two older boys attempted to rob a couple who were out for dinner in Tampa, Florida. Ian was 13 years old. When Debbie Baigre resisted, Ian shot her with a handgun given to him by the older boys. The bullet went through Baigre’s cheek, shattering several teeth and severely damaging her jaw. All three boys were charged with armed robbery and attempted homicide.
Ian’s appointed lawyer encouraged him to plead guilty, assuring him that he would be sentenced to 15 years in prison. The judge accepted Ian’s plea and sentenced him to life with no parole. Even though he was 13, the judge condemned Ian for living on the streets, for not having good parental supervision, and for his multiple prior arrests for shoplifting and property crimes. Ian was sent to an adult prison – the Apalachee Correctional Institution, one of the toughest prisons in Florida. The staff could not find any uniforms that would fit a boy Ian’s size so they cut six inches from the bottom of their smallest pants. Juveniles housed in adult prisons are five times more likely to be the victims of sexual assault, so the staff at Apalachee put Ian, who was small for his age, in solitary confinement.
Solitary confinement at Apalachee means living in a concrete box the size of a walk-in closet. You get your meals through a slot, you do not see other inmates, you never touch another human being. If you “act out”, you are forced to sleep on the concrete floor of your cell without a mattress. If you shout or scream, your time in solitary is extended; if you hurt yourself, your time in solitary is extended.
In solitary Ian became a self-described “cutter”; he would take anything sharp on his food tray to cut his arms or wrists to watch himself bleed. His mental health unravelled, and he attempted suicide several times. Each time he hurt himself his time in solitary was extended.
Once a month Ian was allowed to make a phone call. Soon after he arrived in prison, on Christmas Eve 1992, he used his call to reach out to Debbie Baigre, the woman he shot. When she answered the phone, Ian spilled out an emotional apology, expressing deep regret and remorse. Ms Baigre was stunned to hear from the boy who shot her but was moved by his call. She had physically recovered from the shooting (...) and that first surprising phone call led to a regular correspondence.
Ian had been neglected by his family before the crime took place. He'd been left to wander the streets with little parental or family support. In solitary he met few prisoners or correctional staff. As he sank deeper into despair, Debbiee Baigre became one of the few people in Ian's life who ecouraged him to remain strong.
After communicating with Ian for several years, Baigre wrote the court and told the judge who sentenced Ian of her conviction that this sentence was too harsh and that his conditions of confinement were inhumane. She tried to talk to prison officials and gave interviews to the press to draw attention to Ian's plight. "No one knows more than I do how destrucitve and reckless Ians' crime was, " she told a reporter. "When this crime was committed, he was a child, a thirteen-year-old boy with a lot of problems, no supervision and no help available. We are not children."
The courts ignored Debiie Baigres calls for a reduced sentence.
By 2010 Florida alone had sentenced more than 100 children to life imprisonment without parole for non-homicide offences, several of whom were 13 at the time of their crime. All of the youngest children were black or Latino. Florida had the largest population in the world of children condemned to die in prison for non-homicide."