It's Time to Be Smart on Juvenile Crime
A quarter century of "tough on crime" political rhetoric has in many states spilled over into the juvenile justice system, based on illogical platitudes like "commit an adult crime, do adult time." With the exception of a few status offenses like truancy, every crime is an "adult crime" in the sense that it can be committed by an adult. That's no reason to pretend that a 14 year old has the same maturity or reasoning ability (pdf) as an adult.
The "lock 'em up" strategy that prevails in our adult criminal justice system has infected the juvenile justice system, as well. Fortunately, as a New York Times editorial recognizes, there are more productive alternatives than shipping children off to juvenile (or adult) prisons where they'll be warehoused with minimal effort to rehabilitate.
One proven way to prevent borderline young offenders from becoming serious criminals is to treat them — and their families — in community-based counseling programs instead of shipping them off to juvenile facilities that are often hundreds of miles away from home. ... In addition to saving young lives, the community-based programs cost a lot less: $20,000 per child per year versus as much as $200,000 for holding a child in a juvenile facility.
|< Assembly Line Justice | Sledgehammer Injustice >|