Could it be that slowly judges and jury’s are deciding prison is not the best or only option for wayward teens? Apparently this was the thought process behind Family Court Judge Robert Coonin’s decision to send Trinity Carr, 17, (pictured, in 2015) to Grace Cottage, a secure residential program, for six months instead of to prison. Coonin also barred the teen from social media, and she is ordered to complete various other forms of probation and community service until age 21.
Carr, who was charged after she beat classmate Amy Inita Joyner-Francis – a girl with an undiagnosed heart condition – so badly in the bathroom of their Howard High School of Technology last year that the girl died as a result, appeared in a Wilmington, Delaware Family Court this week to be sentenced.
“It is a case in which no one is looking to determine who wins and who loses because everyone has lost,” said Family Court Judge Robert Coonin. “The community has lost, the defendants and their families have lost, and most importantly, Amy’s family has lost.”
“Nothing that any of us say or do here can ever change that — myself included.”
The victim’s family feels cheated for sure. Amy’s mother, Inita B. Joyner, and the state prosecutor, had fought hard last year for Carr to be tried as an adult in Superior Court. Had this been carried out, Carr would have faced eight years in prison.
Joyner did not appear in court to witness the sentencing, but a letter from her was readinstead. In it she wrote about her disappointment in the incident, and after learning about the sentence expressed her desire to see laws change.
Her letter expressed that she feels a prison sentence would show teens beyond the shadow of a doubt what is expected of them and discourage such brutal behavior.
“They took another human being’s life. A child’s life, my baby’s life, and this is not acceptable in any manner.”
In the letter, she remembered Amy as a child “full of life” who dreamed of becoming a doctor or pursuing a law career. “As Amy’s mother, I am very proud of the positive person she has become,” Joyner said. “Amy never ceased to amaze me with how mature and kind she was.”
Another girl, 17, was also sentenced on Monday along with Carr. She got 18 months of community supervision as she didn’t punch Amy, but she was accused of planning the attack.
Our hearts and prayers are with the Joyner Family. RIP Amy.