Locking them up, throwing away the key, and hoping no one notices

I have to admit that I have not followed the coverage of the trial of the Jane Creba killers all that closely, so it came as a surprise to me to hear that JSR, the first person to be sentenced in connection with her death, was convicted of second-degree murder although all are agreed he didn’t actually kill anyone. From the Globe story:

The prosecution conceded that Mr. Simpson-Rowe did not fire the fatal bullet that tore into Ms. Creba’s back and exited through her throat, but rather shot and wounded two other people, including one of his co-accused.

The judge in the case claims not to be “unsympathetic” to the very sad and violent upbringing of JSR, but that doesn’t make any difference to the sentence. JSR, who — let’s remember — killed no one, has spent the last three years in custody, has now received a life sentence, and will be not be eligible for parole until 2013. What, exactly, is “not unsympathetic” about this sentence? An aggressive, misguided 17-year-old has been turned into a lifetime hardened criminal, and will likely emerge from prison with an entirely justified feeling of justice denied. I agree with Judge Nordheimer that we are entitled to walk the streets without having to worry about violent gunfights erupting in our midst. But does this sentence make you feel safer? Because I don’t see how it could.