Editorially Speaking....A second chance

All the young men who stood up in court and pled guilty to charges of aggravated assault in the Winslow High School hazing cases have started down a hard path. They have to see probation officers immediately, and then live within the confines of probation restrictions for as long as the court sets their term at sentencing. They cannot be careless, or they could end up going straight to jail.

None of this will be easy, but if they weather through it to the end, each young man will be left with only a misdemeanor record. This is equally true for one count or a dozen. If they fail to meet the probation terms, they can be sentenced to jail terms and the charges will be listed as felonies.

Several of the victim's families were present and all of the defendants were accompanied by adults during the long day of negotiation. Both sides accepted the settlement.

For the rest of us it is time to let it rest. Think about being 16 to 18 and the chances you took - or your friends or siblings or children took - and got away with by good luck.

Let it rest. Whether you see this as a miscarriage of justice by being too harsh or too lenient, remember that each young man signed each paragraph of the agreement, and each victim's family was consulted in the process. If they can accept it, then it is over. Let it rest.

We might all wish, in fact, that the public process could end here - but it does not. First, there are still two cases left to settle for two boys who were each accused of involvement in only one incident, and the coach's case awaiting settlement or trial. Second, the civil cases arising from the criminal charges have only just begun. The process of the justice system will undoubtedly be slow, so we might as well get used to it.

The Winslow Mail will continue to adhere to the policy stated in an earlier editorial: When facts become available we will print them.

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