Friday, May 23, 2008

Get Kids Out of Adult Jails

The NY Times wants them out, citing statistics that point to higher incidences of rape, battery, and suicide among children confined in adult jails.

I'm on the fence with this one. While I certainly think states can do a better job of managing their population of young offenders (in some states a kid of 14 can be tried as an adult), some of the kids who get tried in adult courts have been in and out of the system for quite some time. That they are finally seeing the inside of an adult courtroom doesn't mean that they're basically decent kids who made bad decisions. So, if Congress does its job properly it should put the right kind of pressure. For example, if a child under the age of 16 has served juvenile time for a violent felony and has been charged with another such crime, then it's off to grown-up court for him. For first-time offenders, I believe every effort should be made to avoid adult court and to give the kid time to sort through his issues in the juvenile system.

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