News and Tribune

Breaking News

Recent Local News

June 17, 2013

Prison sentence of 12-year-old prompts new sentencing law

INDIANAPOLIS —

Three years ago, when 12-year-old Paul Henry Gingerich became the youngest person in Indiana ever sent to prison as an adult, his story gained international attention and sparked questions about whether children belong behind bars with grown-up offenders. 

Gingerich, convicted of conspiring to murder a friend’s stepfather, remains in prison, awaiting a critical court hearing. But his case has already had a profound impact on how juveniles tried as adults may be punished. 

In late April, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law a provision that gives judges new sentencing options for children under 18 in the state’s criminal courts. It goes into effect July 1.  

Among other things, it gives judges more discretion to keep those young offenders out of the adult prison system and to put them instead into juvenile detention facilities where they can be rehabilitated while serving their sentence. 

Advocates for the new law included state prison officials who feared for Paul Gingerich’s safety when he was first sent to them in 2010 as an 80-pound sixth-grader who’d never been in trouble. 

“No good comes from putting a 12-year-old in an adult prison,” said Mike Dempsey, head of youth services for the Indiana Department of Correction. 

In Indiana, children as young as 10 can tried as adults. Gingerich was 12 when he was arrested in the shooting death of 49-year-old Phillip Danner of Cromwell, along with Danner’s 15-year-old stepson. The defense argued Gingerich had been bullied into the crime by the older teen. 

A psychiatrist who evaluated Gingerich said the boy wasn't competent to stand trial as an adult. But a juvenile court judge rejected that opinion and declared both boys were fit to stand trial as adults. An appeals court has since thrown out that ruling. 

For years, judges in Indiana have had few options for dealing with juveniles who’ve committed heinous crimes. They could keep them in the juvenile court system and order them locked up until they turn 18. Or they could send them into the criminal courts, where the juvenile would be tried and sentenced as an adult.  

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Recent Local News
LOCAL MAGAZINES
Easter 2014 photos


Click on any photo to purchase it.

SPECIAL CONTENT
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
2013 Photos of the year


Take a look at our most memorable photos from 2013.