Juvenile Justice Is Rarely Justice At All

On the basis that every sane citizen of this once-great Nation has already heard, seen and read enough about Obama to last several lifetimes, I will take a break from the topic that is really a love affair between the Media and its man in the White House. Whilst on a short vacation I read an article in the Wall Street Journal of 17th April. It brought back the period of my life when I abandoned once and for all the last vestiges of the Leftism that had informed my early years.

The article was entitled “The High Cost of Coddling” and was written by former teacher Caitlin Flanagan. I would guess that Mrs. Caitlin, who has gone through the same learning experience that I had, is probably now a convinced conservative and would not be welcome back into public school teaching. Presumably her article was sparked by the tenth anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings. As I remember it, the Media in the immediate aftermath of the outrage, had much to say about the wickedness of guns. It never ceases to amaze me how Leftist academics, Leftist politicians and Leftist Media scribblers are able to hijack any dreadful event and lead the public debate away from the logical issues and into channels that further the Leftist agenda. I ought to know better, of course, for the Media has the power to hi-jack every issue and lead us all away from truth and sheer common sense.

I always assumed because of my own experience of working with juvenile criminals, that the two killers of Columbine (Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold) were a pair of disaffected and angry teenagers who had each enjoyed a materially comfortable childhood that lacked parental involvement and guidance. Almost all young offenders are casualties of inadequate parenting that ranges from the over-indulgent and non-judgmental (mother) through the distant or uninvolved (father) to the outright criminal and cruel. I doubt many children are born to be wicked, though a few might be psychopathic as a consequence of their genes. Often, neighborhood values (or lack of them) reinforce juvenile criminality but in the case of killers Harris and Klebold I doubt that this was so.

Mrs. Caitlin in her article by-passes the gun issue and reveals that this pair of killers had a history of evolving law-breaking. In earlier times, as she points out, both would have been yanked out of circulation by the legal system and confined, not for their own good (though it might well have been) but for the good of society and their school peers. The modern ‘juvenile justice system’, imposed on us all by Leftist academic ‘experts’, gullible do-gooders and Leftist politicians, goes to any lengths to keep young criminals in circulation. The theories used to justify this revolutionary approach are well-known to me for I was already working in the juvenile crime system (in the UK) when they were first implemented. They were:
(1) Young offenders were victims first and foremost. It was rarely argued that they were victims of negligent parenting (true) for this was far too judgmental, so instead it was claimed that they were the victims of poverty, poor housing, unemployment and social discrimination. Thus we were all to blame except their parents and only Socialism could remove the causes of crime. In the meantime, it was palpably unfair to punish the young criminals. The law-abiding majority (White middle-class males and their children deserved to be burgled, attacked etc) for they were responsible for the unjust society that was the root cause.
(2) Crime was mostly a young-persons activity, so, given time, offending juveniles would just grow out of their criminality and thus should be allowed to act out their immaturity.
(3) – which followed on from (2) – was that the traditional legal justice system, by enmeshing young offenders, was stigmatizing them and actually setting them on a road to more crime. If they could be kept out of the (in-) justice system they would be saved from becoming more criminal in later years.
(4) Mostly discussed away from the general public, was the view that criminal activity was really unconscious revolutionary activity and morally justified for it was the have-nots claiming their due.

Soon ‘reforms’ were implemented. The age below which a young person could not be held accountable for a crime was raised to 13 and ultimately higher. The decisions regarding prosecution for offences were transferred from the police to social workers. They were obliged to take into consideration the family background before recommending prosecution. The police lost the power to take cases to Court and the Crown Prosecution Service was created, thus those who had first-hand experience of young offenders and the havoc they caused were replaced by a professional group who were distant from the offences and always glad to avoid work. Prosecutions were increasingly abandoned in favor of ‘cautions’. Subsequently, even ‘cautions’ were considered to be too stigmatizing, for they went on to the record. Whole departments of social workers were created to befriend young offenders, help them ‘address their offending behaviors’, and invest much money in giving them treats.

Not surprisingly, the offenders’ more vulnerable peers, seeing how crime paid, were drawn into shop-lifting and other crimes and many criminal youngsters graduated to young adult criminality. Soon, no-one 17 and under could be publicly named for a crime for they had to be considered to be juveniles. We should not be surprised that crime seems now to be so prevalent, especially murders, burglaries, robberies and casual assaults on streets, public transport, bars and in schools. Almost no young criminals are locked away or otherwise taken out of circulation, but prisons for adults are now overflowing. Failure to punish crime by children and young people has led to an explosion of crime by children and adults. The statistics do not adequately reveal this for they have been doctored so that many crimes by young people now go unrecorded. If Harris and Klebold had been taken out of circulation early in their criminal careers, 13 innocent youngsters would still be alive.

The weather here in California continues to be cool at best and cold at worst. We are almost into May and Spring weather has yet to arrive. Has anyone told Al Gore?

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