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17 Year Old Blake Layman Received a 55 Year Sentence

Compelled to share this incredible set of events that changed these young mens’ lives forever, the reason I picked up on this news article was my company had supplied a couple of drinking fountains to The Mount Prison, a young offenders institution based in Hertfordshire. The prison houses 770 youth inmates, and works to rehabilitate youngsters with groups and workshops tackling issues like drugs and employability,  I could bore you with why the prison staff chose the Halsey Taylor HTHB-HVR8 vandal proof drinking fountain for its combination of high performance and resistance to vandalism; however what you will read in a moment is far more interesting.

Young offender’s institutions are the usual destination for those under the age of 18 for whom a regular caution or warning is not sufficient. Normally the young inmates have committed less severe crimes, meaning that their sentences are usually shorter and their facilities are often more relaxed than the equivalent in adult prisons.

50 Year Prison Sentence For Felony Murder

Blake with his brother & mum before his life changed forever

Last year three American teenagers were each sentenced to over 50 years in prison after a fatal burglary attempt. The three teens were part of a group of five who broke into a house in an attempted burglary, before the homeowner – who was cleared of all wrongdoing – shot and killed one of the intruders, the 21 year old Danzele Johnson.

Under the state of Indiana’s felony murder statute, if someone is killed while carrying out a crime, the death is the responsibility of those perpetrating the felony. In this case, the four remaining burglars were held responsible – with one of the group pleading guilty before the case went to trial.

The 17 year old Blake Layman received a 55 year sentence, reduced by 344 days for time already spent in prison, with mandatory treatment for his frequent use of marijuana and prescription drugs like Xanax. Anthony Sharp Jr. received the same 55 year prison sentence, although the 19 year old must also pay a $10,000 fine. 18 year old Levi Sparks, the third member of the group, was handed a $10,000 fine and a 50 year prison sentence – reduced because he was not present in the house at the time of the shooting.
Was the sentence justified?

Since their sentencing in September 2013, there has been widespread controversy surrounding the group – now collectively known as the Elkhart 4. Many feel that the sentence was unfairly harsh, especially given the fact that despite their attempted burglary, the four teenagers did not themselves fire a handgun. Last month, popular American news show ABC Nightline also covered the story, posing the question – was this a fair sentencing for four teenagers who decided to break into a house?

Do you think that the teenagers deserved 50 years in prison for their crime, is the UK too lenient compared to the US?  I am interested in your view so please comment below and share this story.