I have a cousin, “Isaac,” about the same ages me, who has been in jail since we were 25 and will probably die there. The reason is pretty stupid. When we were young, Isaac needed money to impress some girl and so agreed to be the getaway driver in a robbery; He insists that he only agreed to drive the car and was not armed, and it is verifiable that he did not enter the convenient store in question. Things went south. One of the other robbers — who, unlike Isaac, actually went inside the store — shot the clerk on duty. The man died. Soon Isaac and his two cohorts were arrested and although only one shot was fired, all three were convicted of murder. And thus Isaac has spent the last quarter century in prison.
Recently I related the above story to a kid I know, about the same age now that Isaac was way back then. Surprisingly, she was sympathetic to Isaac. She does not believe that his role in the crime warranted even a murder conviction, much less a functional life sentence. I tend to disagree. To me, it seems that the principal under which Isaac was convicted — the felony murder rule — is just. If you are going to participate in a crime in which there is the threat of violence, you are no less guilty of any on suing homicide than a person who actually pulls a trigger.
But maybe that is just me. Thoughts?