“Why did you talk?” Jasmine asks Richard later. She tells him that he should have waited for a lawyer, but Richard didn’t even think about lawyers. According to Slater, 90 percent of arrested juveniles “do what Richard did. They talk.” Studies show that once kids are arrested, they rarely ask for a lawyer. They are scared and still hope “that somehow their parents won’t find out” what they’ve done. The police had read Richard his rights, but Jasmine knows that “he didn’t understand.” How could he? “When we’re in court,” Jasmine says, “I don’t know nothing until the lawyer tells me.”
Clearly, Richard does not fully understand the severity of his situation. He has no idea that his actions could result in spending the rest of his life in prison, and because of this, Slater questions the morality of treating Richard like an adult. Instead, Slater argues that Richard’s adolescent ignorance should not equate to a life sentence, and that adolescents should be held to a different standard of punishment.