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19 Aug, 2011 03:53

12-year-old boy jailed for 30 years

Paul Henry Gingerich is serving a prison sentence for the shooting that killed a friend’s step-father. Even though he didn’t pull the trigger — or know that he was going to be a part of the murder plot — Gingerich was sentenced to 30 years in jail.

By the time he sees the light of the outside world again, he’ll have come a long way since sixth grade.In Indiana, a 12 year old like Paul can be tried as an adult if the court finds it is in the best interest of society. His attorney, Monica Foster, tells RT that the controversy surrounding the case has led to unjust circumstances for a child that doesn’t deserve this punishment.Since he was tried as an adult, a judge originally ordered Paul to serve time in a prison for one. That decision has since been changed, and for the time being the boy is behind bars at a juvenile facility. Even still, he is forced to live alongside hardened criminals, some nearly double his age that have been sentenced for horrible sexual assaults. According to Foster and a slew of supporters, Gingerich doesn’t belong there.His lawyer describes the youngster as someone with no prior incidents, and that the worst thing they could say about him at his hearing was that “he sometimes didn’t do his homework and he sometimes talked in class.”“This is truly, truly a little boy,” adds Foster. “When I went to see him the first time in the prison, it was shocking to me how much of a little boy he is.”And though the courts are treating him like a man, Foster says the punishment is doing nothing to help him or his family overcome the crime. “When we send [children] through the adult prison system, we are basically saying that there is no help for you,” she says. “In America, we ought not to have that idea that it’s okay to flush a 12-year-old child’s life down the drain like that.””I think that if we want to create a productive member of society we need to treat a kid like him in a juvenile system and not just flush him away and say that there’s no hope for him,” Foster adds.“It’s just madness; it’s just crazy,” she says.Foster notes that the boy’s original attorney had practically no time to put together a defense case and says that there was no way anyone could be prepared for a trial like this one. Now family and supporters are urging others to help make it possible so that his sentence can be overruled.