Seat of Wisdom and Mother of Mercy– titles of the Blessed Mother– remind us that reason and mercy are complimentary qualities that should inform the decisions we make as individuals and as a society. Wisdom, reason, and compassion must play a role in our efforts to reform the many parts of the justice system as two of last week’s judicial actions demonstrated.
Last week, the conviction of the former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd followed expert medical and police testimony that verified the lethal consequences portrayed in the video and eyewitness accounts. This break in the blue wall of silence signals that like the general public, many police officers find the status quo unacceptable.
In contrast, on Thursday, a divided Supreme Court ruling made it easier to sentence to life without parole juveniles who had committed homicide. Acknowledging research into the gradual development of the adolescent brain, the court had prohibited the death penalty and mandatory life sentences for adolescents. Considering the demographics of youths sentenced to life imprisonment, this ruling will disproportionately affect people of color.