The Thomas White Case
May 31, 2007
To the editor:

I am very concerned that 14 yr. old Thomas White, has been certified as an adult and faces prosecution in an adult court. Thomas was only 13 yrs. old when he made a very immature decision about how he would stop constant bullying at school. His own mother has been quoted in the media stating that she and the school officials should have done more to help him.

Most adults have trouble understanding the court process. All of us have the right to participate in defending ourselves in court; a child cannot make adult decisions concerning his defense. A child cannot begin to grasp "years" locked up.

This case chips away at any semblance of handling of children in a decent, thoughtful fashion it is another step down the slippery slope of taking cases tailor-made for juvenile handling, and thrusting the children into the limelight in order to ensure political benefits for overzealous prosecutors.

Thomas White should have been held accountable in juvenile court and he should have had the opportunity to grow into adulthood without prison or a felony record.

Donna Gallegos
Administrator, Justiceforjuveniles.org

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Editor's note: Thomas White,14, carried an assault rifle into Joplin's Memorial Middle School when it allegedly misfired while he had pointed it at the ceiling rather than having shot Assistant Superintendent Steve Doerr in front of him. He was certified to stand trial as an adult by Jasper County Circuit Court Judge William Crawford last December. His decision came after testimony by April Foulkes, a juvie officer who testified that White should stand trial as an adult, and if convicted, to be sentenced to a dual-juristiction program of the state until he turned 18 rather than possibly being released from a juvenile detention setting in a year or less. White's father, Gregory Lynn White, 44, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard Dorr to serve 18 months in a federal prison for possessing firearms and ammunition as a convicted felon.

A report filed by the Joplin Police Dept. may be found here.

The mission statement on the LawForKids.org website (Justice for Juveniles) states: "Justice for Juveniles is a grass roots group of concerned parents, grandparents, teachers, scholars, internet professionals, legal professionals and many others dedicated to ending the prosecution and adjudication of children as adults."

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