As Richard enters the courtroom in mid-January, he is sure not to smile at Jasmine, so people won’t think “he doesn’t have compassion for Sasha.” Others may think his smile is a “smirk.” Du Bois files a petition with the judge that argues trying Richard as an adult is “cruel and unusual punishment.” At sixteen, it is simply too early to assume Richard is “irredeemably a depraved ‘criminal,’” he says. The judge denies the petition.
Du Bois files this petition because Richard has not reached the age-crime curve. It remains to be seen whether Richard is a criminal, and to treat him as such, Du Bois argues, constitutes cruel punishment. The quick and offhanded way in which the judge dismisses Du Bois’s petition reflects the racist nature of the justice system—the system already believes Richard is “super-predator.”