Wednesday, 6 June 2012
Thirteen-year-old Blade Reed is serving a 30-year prison sentence in the state of Indiana for robbery (with severe bodily injury). At the time of the offense, Blade had the mental capacity of an 8-year-old (he currently functions at the level of less than a 12 year-old), and had been coerced into participating in the crime. Blade's older brother was the instigator of the crime and threatened Blade with bodily harm if Blade didn't accompany him that fateful day. Though Blade is severely developmentally disabled, the courts threw him into adult court, and sentenced him as an adult. Now Blade is serving a long-term sentence in adult prison, where he has been repeatedly assaulted by predatory inmates and beaten by staff. Blade had always been dominated by his older brother Bennie. They had been through so much together—abusive parents, foster homes, adoption—Bennie was the only “constant” in Blade’s life. So on November 15, 2008, when a drunk Bennie Reed woke up his younger brother and threatened to "slice and kill" Blade if he didn't go out with Bennie to find more liquor, Blade naturally obeyed. Bennie (17) and Blade (13) rode their bikes to the nearby home of an elderly couple, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Voland. Bennie knocked on the door and when Mr. Voland answered, Bennie asked to use the phone. He told the elderly man that their bikes had flats and they needed to call for help. Mr. Voland obliged, and let Bennie in while Blade remained outside. Once Bennie was inside, Mr. Voland saw that the boy had a gun, Mr. Voland pulled out a gun himself, and a struggle ensued. Bennie was shot in the arm, he pulled out his gun, and shot Mr. Voland. Hearing the shots and commotion, Mrs. Voland entered the room and tried to help her husband. At this point Bennie was twirling his gun on his finger, and Mrs. Voland implored him to stop. “The gun could still be loaded," she said. “Let’s find out,” Bennie replied, and shot Mrs. Voland in the abdomen. Blade had been waiting outside all this time, but hearing the shots, came inside to see what had happened . Bennie gave him a knife and said, "kill the woman; there can be no witnesses." “I didn’t want to kill anyone,” Blade later told authorities. But he took the knife and pretended to do as he was told. He cut softly, so as not to kill the woman. She ‘d done him no harm and he was afraid of Bennie. Bennie and Blade were arrested less than 7 weeks later, whereupon prosecutor Jim Oliver filed for Blade’s waiver into adult court on January 12, 2009. The court ordered a psychological evaluation, the results of which were presented on July 17th. ennie and Blade were arrested less than 7 weeks later, whereupon prosecutor Jim Oliver filed for Blade’s waiver into adult court on January 12, 2009. The court ordered a psychological evaluation, the results of which were presented on July 17th. The psychiatrist hired by the court, Dr. Tonya Foreman, said she concluded that Blade had the mental maturity of a child of age 10 or 11. She said 97% of children Blade’s chronological age are more socially adept than Blade. Foreman said Blade had been treated and medicated for ADHD, with treatment ending nine years earlier. She said Blade had behavioral problems ever since, and warned: "If he goes and develops in an adult model center, he will be influenced by the other inmates." Another witness, school psychologist Barbara Jones, also testified that the 6th grader has learning disabilities and a mental age of less than 11. She said Blade needs special education classes, and that he has no deviant psychological problems such as being a sociopath or psychopath. The experts were right but didn’t go far enough in their evaluations. In-depth testing by a qualified expert has shown that Blade is autistic and only had the mental maturity of an 8-year-old at the time of the crime! Whether Blade had the mental development of an 8- or a 10-year-old, Blade was incompetent to assist with his defense or to even understand what was happening to him, and as such was denied due process. Nevertheless, prosecutor Jim Oliver attacked the experts’ testimony as biased and, in his words, “indicative of someone who is advocating as opposed to impartially evaluating and reporting their findings.” Oliver has been disproved by subsequent events. However, even though testimony at the waiver hearing clearly showed that Blade is extremely immature, suffers from severe ADHD, but amenable to the rehabilitation available in the juvenile system, Oliver was persuasive and the court waived Blade into adult court on July 23rd. At that time, Blade was moved from the Johnson County Juvenile Detention Center to the Brown County adult jail. In a plea agreement, he was sentenced to 30 years in adult prison. Blade is currently serving his sentence at Wabash Valley Correctional Institution, where he has been repeatedly beaten and assaulted and is severely punished by the prison for his psychological symptoms. Blade is suicidal and in imminent danger. Brown County IN prosecutor Jim Oliver has said that justice was served in prosecuting then-13-year-old Blade Reed, a sixth-grader, as an adult and placing him in adult prison. “He committed an adult crime and he has received adult consequences,” Oliver has said. Only two-thirds of the way into the first year of a 30-year sentence, Blade was sexually assaulted two times and almost three, attacked by other inmates three times with weapons (shanks or razors), seriously injured by staff once, attempted suicide four times, lost all gain-time, lost recreation, phone and commissary privileges, and had numerous psychological episodes for which he received inadequate therapy and severe punishment which only exacerbate his mental health issues. Blade’s autism and untreated ADHD and PTSD do not offer any hope that he will be able to successfully navigate life in adult prison or even survive it. This boy’s life is in imminent danger. What civilized human being can argue that Oliver’s “adult consequences” in any way approximate justice? In reality, Blade has received a death sentence. Blade Reed was born on August 2, 1995 in Morgan County, Indiana. He was the second son of abusive parents who not only neglected him, but also physically and sexually abused him. His birth parents’ parental rights were terminated in 2001 when Blade was just six. Blade and his older brother Bennie were placed by the state of Indiana in a succession of foster homes, which contributed to his unstable and damaging upbringing. He grew into an extremely shy, quiet, and frightened child. Both brothers were adopted by a loving yet dysfunctional family that was overwhelmed by Blade’s special needs and failed to address them. Blade lived an isolated life and had few friends. Blade's older brother Bennie was the only constant in his life and his most influential bond. Unfortunately, Blade was completely dominated by his older, twisted brother. He was a good little boy who never had a chance.