Harvey’s Machinima

At Wednesday’s meeting, we looked at some machinima work by producer Chantal Harvey.  Primarily utilizing Second Life, all of her work was insightful and fun to watch. Her video “Robi”, tells the story of an alien left behind on a forgotten planet after losing his head. Although a simple story, the macinima is both tragic and tranquil. The designs and actions are also simple, but still manage to tell a good story. Watch “Robi” here.


Chris Thomas is a Good Kid

Reading the documents from earlier in his life, we see Chris described “violent”, “argumentative”, “disruptive”, and “disrespectful”. In recent interviews, however, we have heard quite the opposite. We’ve heard Thomas being described as “bright”, “polite”, and an “attractive kid”. Of course we’re talking about events separated by two decades in Chris’ life from elementary years to late twenties and now age thirty. So some of his current progress, no doubt is attributed to maturity. Yet even those who met with him saw differences in his behavior and general attitude one-on-one than that of his experience in the school system. This is typical of those in his situation, hardened children. They may have trouble functioning in an organized environment such as public school in their younger years, but are very unaware of what they are doing being so young. Even all the way up to Chris’ arrest in 1999, we learn that he had little to do with the robbery at hand and was maybe a little more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Neglected by his parents and grandparents, that are the foundation for every kid, bouncing back and forth to numerous foster homes, and topping it all off with a major arrest. You have to feel for him, and be proud of any progress he has made.

Importance of Thomas’ Progress: From Abandonment to Reformation

Christopher Thomas has been waiting for a big break his entire life. From being neglected as a child to being aggressive with his peers, he came from a very low point and didn’t have a friend in the world. Being in prison since age 13 will take a toll on anyone, I’m sure. Christopher may not know what will become of him should he never be granted a trial and have the chance to be freed. Yet from what we know of him, he is doing well.

It’s been said that Thomas has obtained his GED, a big deal for people in his predicament seeing as though very few of them become high school educated. According to his attorney’s letter in 2012, he was working towards earning his commercial drivers license, a license often needed to drive a larger vehicle. What is he planning on pursuing with this?

Thomas was really a kid cast down before his time. He was given very little options and had very few chances. But he’s making something of himself. Moving forward, it would be great to discover more.

Senate Bill 440

Christopher Thomas was sentenced to 40 years when he was 13 years old. Though involved in robbing a pawn shop, he did not remove anything from the store, nor did he kill anyone. He was convicted of armed robbery and aggravated assault. Both Thomas and his co-defendant, Christopher Butts, were tagalongs in the robbery that they claimed was part of a gang initiation.

In the wrong place at the wrong time. Such is the fate of many minors aged 13-17 who get sentenced for one of seven great crimes, nicknamed the “Seven Deadly Sins”, under Senate Bill 440 – SB440. The minors face a huge penalty of adult proportions, being tried before the Department of Corrections as an adult in lieu of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

The “sins” or crimes in question are murder, rape, aggravated battery, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated robbery with firearm, aggravated child molestation, and aggravated manslaughter. Convicts face a minimum of 10 years in prison; those who are sentenced longer cannot receive parole. A second conviction results in a life sentence without parole.

Such juvenile cases were stiffened in 1994 as part of the common belief at the time to get tough on crime. Recidivism, or one’s relapse back into crime, was certainly impacted, but in the opposite direction. Georgia’s crime rates showed as many repeat offenders in the juvenile system as in the adult system. Recidivism is on the rise nationwide, leading many to think that the tough on crime SB440 has failed in it’s purpose.

My Voice: Contributing to the Virtual World Project

We had our show and tell on Wednesday, August 26, where we discussed our own greatest works along with connecting that to how we can contribute to the project. My presentation was on an article I wrote about my life with Asperger’s which was published by The Talon in April 2015. Dr. Witt had stated how mental health is one of the issues surrounding juveniles in the justice system, clearly not strange waters to someone who grew up in the autism camp. This makes me want to fall down on my knees and thank God that none of my struggles didn’t lead to being behind bars for any violent mishaps stemming from problems on the inside.

JJIE recently publish a story of a 14-year old inmate who committed suicide on last Easter Sunday. The lead sentence states “Severe understaffing and failures in training and mental health procedures” were factors in his death. It’s no surprise. It would be an interesting study to see how prevalent such circumstances are today and their correlation to the criminal actions of juveniles in the system.

The misconception, still prominent today, is that suicidal teens merely have a vain desire to “seek attention”. That there is no internal problem with them.  All they want is the proverbial spotlight cast on them by their peers or others around them, perhaps only to hear the wailing cries of “Don’t kill yourself! We love you!”. This is pretty far from the truth.

Many of those who feel the burden of suicidal idealization want to be happy. They don’t want to die, they want to live life and live it to the fullest. Yet, on the flip side, they may have a missing sense of self worth which leads to the conclusion (albeit a delusional one) that the world would be a better place without them.

What of those that get convicted and incarcerated so young? Who feel their life is over? Such a young imprisonment may bring the thought that one’s life is over. Especially when combined with mental health issues going unnoticed or untreated.