Justice or Too Far?

The parents of an eight-year-old boy recently pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter of their son.  Their son died from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2008.  The state of Ohio brought involuntary manslaughter charges against the parents.  The two parents face up to eight years each in prison.


The charges stem off of the parents’ lack of medical care in regards to their son.  From reports, they believed that their son had swollen glands.  He did not complain of any tenderness or pain.  Their son exhibited no signs of failing health.  The parents claim that their son had a lump near his glands that would swell and reduce periodically.  Other than this lump, their son exhibited no symptoms.  According to the Mayo Clinic, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is linked with symptoms that include painless swelling of the lymph nodes, constant fatigue, fever and itching.  Not every case identifies itself through all or any of these symptoms.

As for the child in question, his lymph nodes periodically swelled and then went down, with no other symptoms.  The charges brought against his parents, go substantially past substantiating them for abuse or neglect of a child.  Rather, these charges hold them out as murdering their eight-year-old son.  It appears as if these parents struggled financially and were trying their best to provide for their child.  Is it necessary to charge grieving parents, ones who probably feel their failure everyday, with murder of their own child?  What exactly is the justice here?  If the state is seeking deterrence, is a murder charge truly needed?  Most people will say that the loss of a child is the hardest thing a parent will ever have to endure.  The loss of a child to an undiagnosed cancer must be even worse.  The suffering and self-blame that these parents likely impose on themselves must be so great.  How does the state, or their late child benefit by their imprisonment?

In looking at the big picture, it should also be noted that their guilty plea and prison sentence would not just hold them back for the next eight years.  In fact, they will have to bear witness to their self-blame every time they apply for jobs in the future.  Not only will they have to relive the pain of their child’s death, but also they will have to relive the pain of their marital separation and prison sentence.  Is this really justice?