Highly unlikely are the odds anyone reading this editorial has gone through life with no hopes or dreams.

We all have hopes and dreams, right?

And we know right from wrong.

Tear-filled proceedings in a juvenile courtroom on two days this past week compels us to step back and accept this reality: For some young boys in our community, that’s not the case.

As a consequence of the unfocused, seemingly (in their minds, at least) hopeless lives of two such boys, a young girl described as energetic and kind — like the boys barely into teenage years — died a coldly calculated and brutal death last March.

One boy, now 14, will spend at least the next seven years in a juvenile prison for pulling the trigger of the gun that killed Sylvia McGee. Hanging over his head is an additional adult prison term of 18 years to life, depending on his conduct in an Ohio Department of Youth Services facility.

Ironic considering the boy told a psychologist as part of the proceedings in his case that he didn’t expect to live past the age of 18.

Tragedy atop tragedy.

“I don’t know if you have any hopes or dreams,” Judge Rosemarie Hall told defendant Isiah Lynch as she sentenced him Tuesday.

Lynch told the psychologist he was “too deep in the streets” to take a different path in his life. He spent more than two weeks planning the fatal shooting.

Are we as a society prepared to accept the possibility there is a point of no return for young boys looking toward gangs for the fulfillment they’re not finding elsewhere?

Not here. We’re not willing to concede defeat or turn over more boys “to the streets.”

It won’t be easy, and it’s going to take more than mothers already working three jobs to survive, as was the case in the Lynch household.

Perhaps the counselors and other staff in the state prison system can find a way to reach Lynch.

In the end, though, it depends on Lynch himself — a point Hall made clearly during the sentencing.

“Your future is in your hands,” she said. “Change has to come from you ... (and) you have to be open to services (the Ohio Department of Youth Services) are going to offer. If you don’t change on the inside, nothing is going to change on the outside.”

Seven years is plenty of time to find the right path if he so chooses.

Lynch’s accomplice, Michael Boykins, could get his second chance in one year.

For McGee, there is no second chance. No do-over. We grieve with her family. We share their anger.

“Our pain and our suffering is every day. Every single day is pain,” Darnellas Milini, McGee’s step-grandmother, said in court.

We commend a willingness to forgive that some relatives expressed in court.

Carlina Hanley, McGee’s great aunt, told Boykins: “I just pray you turn your life around because the road you’re going down is a road of destruction.”

For the Sylvia McGee’s in our community, all of us must work to help troubled boys find a road leading not to violence and pain but one with hopes and dreams.

Canton Repository

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