Prostitutes pick up clients on a street corner as Father Jack Malone walks around, giving out flyers with his church's soup kitchen. Despite the reluctance of the people on the street, he continues going from person to person. After talking to several people, he finds one boy slumped on the ground. Upon realizing the boy is dead, he hails a police car.
"For God's sakes, the kid's dying! Get a cop, now!"
—Father Jack Malone
Talking to Logan, Malone says he knows most of the people in the area, but not this particular kid. He adds that a lot of the people will come to his soup kitchen the next day for free food, so they can do a canvas then. The medical technician tells Briscoe that the kid, was beaten badly, They don't find ID, but do find a student bus pass. Briscoe notices that the kid has $200 sneakers.
At the soup kitchen, Lola says she doesn't know who the kid is. When Logan says that she should know the kid because she's a prostitute and would have noticed him as a potential customer, she says she only approaches women. Briscoe talks to a guy named Lewis, who assumes that the kid was 'turning tricks' and was killed by someone molesting him. He says that, if that a Mr. Clyde is the local pimp for all 'rough' sexual activities. They go to The Manhole, Clyde's club, and find Clyde. Clyde claims not to know anything, He says that he only deals with consenting adults, and maintains that he doesn't know anything even when they threaten him arrest for child prostitution. They bring him to the station to hold him.
The ME says that the kid was severely beaten and was bleeding internally frinm a lot of places. She says he could have walked for about 2 hours before dying. She didn't find any evidence of sexual activity, meaning Clyde is probably innocent, and she also reports that he had string beans, milk, meat, and potatoes. They theorize that he was at home, since kids usually don't get string beans elsewhere. Van Buren says that, if the kid lived at home, Missing Persons should have been notified, but Logan says that the parents may have beaten the kid in the first place. She tells them to look for students who have been absent from schools on the kid's bus pass.
The teacher at the school that they talk to doesn't recognize the kid and doesn't have usable attendance records. Logan wonders if the kid was sent to the guidance counselor — if he was being beaten at home, he may have gotten into trouble at school. They check in with her, and find the name of the student — Jon Lasky. He was energetic and happy, albeit disruptive. She gets the address for the detectives.
At the address, they find Jon's father, Zach Mohr. He says that his girlfriend, Tori Lasky, moved out a few months ago. His new girlfriend, Delia, enters, but he blows her off. He says he threw her and Jon out because Tom was driving Tori crazy (and onto drugs) and he, Zach, couldn't put up with it.
"So everybody's partying and Johnny's gonna take care of Johnny?"
"What do I look like, the Partridge family?"
—Mike Logan and Zach Mohr
Mohr says that Tori might be in rehab.
At the rehab clinic, Tori Lasky says that Jon was taken by Child Welfare. She becomes offended when Logan asks if she might have given him drugs, and says that she went to rehab so that she could get her kid back. She doesn't know where Jon was living.
A lady at the Welfare agency says that Jon had tested positive for heroin at birth. Two months ago, Jon was found in class having been beaten savagely, after which point he went into foster care and Tori finally went to rehab. She directs them to Flo Bishop, Jon's foster mother.
At Bishop's place, she says she thought Jon would come back after he went missing. If she reported him missing, he'd go somewhere worse than her home. She says that she tries to help her boys and thought she was making genuine progress with Jon. She last saw him going to a movie with two other boys in the program, Chris and Andy. The other two say he vanished after the show. Bishop guesses that Jon ran home to see his parents, and thought he'd come back.
Chris Pollit and Andy talk to the detectives. They say that after they finished the film, they went to get pizza and Jon vanished. Chris says that Mohr beat Jon, so the detectives bring him into interrogation. Mohr swears he never hurt Jon, and that the beating two months ago was from when Jon stumbled into a fight between him and Tori. He says he has an alibi for the night of the murder; he was at a concert in Jersey. After that, he invokes his right to an attorney.
Van Buren tells the detective that the alibi is at least possible — the concert did happen in Jersey, although they aren't sure when Mohr showed up. She sends the detectives to talk to Delia, Mohr's girlfriend.
At a restaurant, Delia vouches for Mohr, even when Briscoe threatens her with an Accessory to Murder charge. Logan sees bruises on her arm, but she doesn't talk about them. She admits that Jon showed up at the apartment the night of the murder, but it was after Mohr had already left. She heard a few kids trying to get a key into the door, and saw Jon run away. She said she'd seen them before; someone went into their apartment and stole some of their equipment. There was no break-in, meaning the burglar had a key. Mohr assumed it was Tori, but Delia thinks it was Jon.
Outside, Logan eats a hotdog as Briscoe makes a call. Once he finishes, Briscoe says that Chris Pollit already did time at a juvenile facility — and had time added on for bad behavior. They bring in Chris, who quickly slips up and mentions that Jon was from the Lower East Side, even though no one told him. Pollit is defiant.
"Why don't you and Captain America go blow it out your butt?"
Van Buren talks to Andy, and discusses Flo Bishop. Briscoe comes in and says that Pollit blamed Bishop for the break ins. According to Briscoe, Bishop fenced the sound equipment that Jon, Chris, and Andy stole from Mohr. Pollit also says Bishop killed Jon to stop him from ratting her out. Andy quickly says that Pollit must be lying, and that he's the one who killed Jon.
Logan interrogates Andy, who says that Jon wanted money so that his mother could afford a place to live. Pollit was supposed to fence the equipment for money, but he spent all the money on clothes instead of giving it to the others. On the night of the murder, the three returned to the house to steal more stuff. They fled after they heard Delia, and then Pollit went nuts and kicked Jon to death. Andy says that Pollit scared him worse than his own abusive father.
In Stone's office, Pollit's attorney (Helen Brolin) tells Stone that she wants Pollit tried as a juvenile so he has a chance of being rehabilitated. Stone objects to this due to the severity of the crime, Kincaid points out that Pollit was already at a juvenile facility, and Stone adds that the law presumes that 15-year-old teenagers are tried as adults. After getting nowhere begging for leniency, Brolin says that she'll see Stone at a hearing to decide if Pollit will be tried as an adult or juvenile, and adds that Judge Martha Kershan will be presiding. Kincaid asks who this is; Stone says that she's one of the most pro-children judges in the system.
"It's not easy to get a case remanded to family court. The burden's still on the defense."
"Well, the burden just got a lot lighter for them..."
—Claire Kincaid and Ben Stone
Kincaid talks to Bishop, who doesn't want to help her. She says that Pollit's mother rented him out for sex to make money, his doctor doped him on Thorazine, and his other foster families just used the welfare checks for luxuries while Pollit starved. She thinks Pollit was a victim of circumstance. When Kincaid asks about his year in juvenile detention, Bishop refuses to tell her, and adds that the judge sealed the records.
Kincaid next talks to Tracy Pollit, Chris's mother. She didn't even know Chris was in jail for a year. Kincaid mentions that the state removed Chris; Tracy says that she left Chris alone for a few hours a day and someone broke in to molest him, and that she doesn't think this is her fault. Kincaid asks where the father is; Tracy says he's in Attica. Tracy is having another baby and says she has the right to be a mother. Kincaid looks disgusted.
In his office, Schiff recounts a schoolyard scuffle, and sighs that now students are killing each other. Kincaid feels bad for Chris due to his terrible upbringing, and points out that they don't even know if any of Chris's previous offenses were violent.
"And why does our Mr. Pollit deserve two bites at the apple?"
"Because he's not even fifteen years old."
—Adam Schiff and Claire Kincaid
Schiff says they should find a way to open Chris's file, and let Brolin take it to family court if the offenses were non-violent. Kincaid goes to have a drink with a social worker who defends children charged with crimes. He says that the prior offenses are fair game, although it can't be used at the full trial later. Kincaid notes his cynicism; the social worker says that he'll have to live in the city when the kids grow up.
In Judge Kershan's office, Pollit recounts the night in question. He says Jon called his mother a whore and kept on insulting her, and then he doesn't remember anything about the fight. He says he feels terrible about it, and doesn't want to hurt anyone. Stone asks about a Brian North, Brolin objects, and Kershan quickly overrules her. Stone says that North was someone who cut in line at the juvenile facility, for which Pollit smashed him in the face and kicked him repeatedly until he fell unconscious. Broiln says that this is Pollit's first offense in a normal environment, but Kershan asks why Pollit was even in the juvenile facility at all. Stone says that Pollit helped hold up a deli and shot the owner when he didn't find any money.
Later, Schiff says that he's surprised that Kershan threw out Brolin's motion to transfer to family court. Kincaid comes in and says that Brolin is proposing a mental defect defense. Stone points out that Pollit had consciousness of guilt and remorse,
but Kincaid said that Brolin's case is that Pollit is genetically predisposed to violence — his relatives are mostly incarcerated. Stone thinks this is ridiculous, but Kincaid says they have to see what Kershan thinks tomorrow.
In Kershan's office again, Brolin says that scientists have linked genetics to human behavior, and Stone says that they were mostly Nazi scientists. Brolin says that local researchers have identified the XYY chromosome as giving a predisposition to violence; Pollit has the chromosome.
"He also has blond hair and brown eyes. Should we allow that as a defense for murder as well?"
Stone objects that the scientific evidence is not generally accepted by the scientific community, but Brolin says all scientists accept gene theory. Kershan brings up a precedent where this was attempted and didn't work, the Richard Speck case, but Brolin points out that Speck didn't actually have the chromosome, so it's a different situation. Kershan decides to allow the defense.
Outside, Stone snaps at Brolin about the ridiculousness of the defense, and asks her if she thinks people aren't responsible for their actions. Brolin says that she wanted Pollit to be tried in family court, but an acquittal will still be better for Pollit than Attica. Stone disagrees.
Olivet studies Pollit, giving him scenarios and asking how he'd respond. Pollit gets angry at the scenarios. He says he'd beat up and might try to kill a kid who falsely turned him in for cheating. Olivet asks about Jon, and Chris says that he liked Jon, but Jon got him angry. Talking to Stone, Olivet says that Chris was definitely sane talking to her, but loses control when provoked. Stone asks if she believes the XYY chromosome theory, and Olivet says that there's no evidence for it. She gets Olivet to admit that, by all the scientific data they have, Chris was fully responsible for his acts.
In court, the ME testifies that Jon was terribly beaten and was conscious during the beating, and Stone gets her to say that he was probably screaming. During her cross-examination, Brolin elaborates on the brutality of the crime, and then says that the crime was savage, and tries to get her to say that it was done by someone who wasn't in their right mind, but Stone objects.
Olivet testifies that Pollit was sane, and that the XYY chromosome has not been correlated with aggressive or violent behavior. Brolin has her admit that other mental conditions, like depression, are genetic, and asks if it's unreasonable to think that criminal behavior might be too. Olivet says that there's no data supporting that, but Brolin points out that Olivet's objections are all methodological; no evidence was found against the theory, but the evidence for the theory was found to be weak.
A scientist says that Pollit has the extra Y chromosome, and that his lab's studies show a correlation between the chromosome and criminal behavior.
"...would you say this behavior is uncontrollable?"
"No more controllable than your height."
—Helen Brolin and the scientist
Stone gets the scientist to admit that there are some people that have the extra Y chromosome but haven't committed violent acts, and when the scientist says the study is not finished, Stone castigates him.
Schiff says that racist groups are supporting Brolin for arguing that genetics influence crime. Stone wonders if anyone really believes in the XYY chromosome theory, and Schiff says that it's appealing for some people to think that it's true. Kincaid comes in and says that Tracy Pollit was added to Brolin's witness list; Stone complains.
Tracy testifies that Chris acted unusually since birth. She reports that Chris attacked her with a knife at the age of four when she took a toy away. She lists members of her family who have been sent to jail for violent crimes. Stone asks what discipline they tried; Tracy doesn't have a good answer. Stone asks if she believes the theory and Tracy says that she does; she claims that she couldn't have helped Chris, since his genes made him violent. Stone points out that Tracy is pregnant and says that, if the theory is true, they'll have to lock up the baby upon birth and sterilize him, or perhaps just abort him.
In a bar, Brolin approaches Stone. After saying she has a few jurors on her side and that Chris refused to go on the stand, she proposes a deal. Stone points out that Brolin shouldn't be trying to get a deal if she thinks she has a mistrial. Brolin says that Chris wants a sit-down, and Stone accepts.
In Stone's office, Chris says that he doesn't care anymore. He says that he's heard all the testimony about how his genes are irreparably screwed up, and that he wants to go to jail. Kincaid, Stone, and Brolin try to talk him out of it, but he won't listen.
"You might spend the rest of your life there, Chris."
—Claire Kincaid and Chris Pollit
Later, Stone doesn't want to take the deal, but Schiff orders him to. Schiff says that it's ridiculous how people start supporting killers once they act guilty. In court, Kershan is surprised that Pollit is pleading for a maximal sentence, but Pollit insists. He even rejects Stone's idea that he'll stay at the juvenile facility until his 18th birthday. The plea is accepted, and Pollit is sent to jail for life.