Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: the sexy side of the colo
I started to post yesterday, but I didn't have time to say all I wanted to say about it. Today, most of my thoughts have already been captured.
I am on the side of the fence that is against sending juveniles to prison. When a child commits a crime, three things should de addressed.
1) How do we rehabilitate the child?
2) How do we deter other children from committing the crime?
3) How do we punish the child?
To me, the most important of the three is #1 because children are indeed "moldable". And also because so many things are going on physically and emotionally during youth and adolescence that impact a person's behavior. It is in reaching this objective that prison fails. It does not rehabilitate--it does the opposite. Children (and adults) will more likely learn to be worse after spending time in prison. This is due, in part, to the fact that fellow inmates share crime stories and strategies. That's not what we need for someone that might someday be reintroduced into society.
Other methods might do a better job of rehabiliting (education facilities under protective custody), but often fail as deterrents or punishment -- as the Canadian example shows.
So how do you achieve all three?
Everything depends on the severity of the crime, so there must be a graduated scale for the remedy. I feel that for the most severe crimes, parents must be partly held accountable somehow for the action since it is their responsibility more than anyone else's to rear their own child properly. Sure there are nice parents and mean kids, but is the parents' failure to exert authority and impose discipline the reason for the bad child? On the flip side, the parents might be neglecting the child (the most like scenario IMO). Imposing some sort of sanction against the parents, as harsh as it may seem, might make parents more responsible (ie, like keeping guns put away better, or punishing their kids when the kids misbehave, or giving the child the attention s/he needs).
Now for the child. For severe crimes, take the child away from the parents. That would serve partly as punishment for the child and a sanction for the parents. Continue to educate the child and provide the child some sort of psychiatric treatment. Take away some of the freedoms of being a child by making the kid work. Give the kids salary to the victim or the victim's family. When the offender reaches legal age, tightly monitor his/her actions after release. This may be via parole or a tracking device.
And most importantly, let all kids know what awaits them if they choose a life of crime.
Last edited by Bright Red; Mar 1st, 2002 at 04:53 PM.