Fixing the time in youth crime: Long, harsh sentences not seen as way to rehabilitate

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  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 21, 2012 3:48 p.m.

    I don't konw the solution for rehabilitation, but I wish I did.

    Meanwhile, I do know that vilent thugs that are locked up are not a danger to society.

    So, until that magic rehab solutionis discovered, we really need to keep young criminals locked for for a very long time to protect society against their predation.

    But, if you want your car stolen, house burglarized, relatives raped, and identity stolen, then you can support short sentences and early release by unrehabilitated thugs.

  • JBQ Saint Louis, MO
    Feb. 21, 2012 9:51 a.m.

    As someone who worked in a Missouri juvenile prison for two and one half years, I can tell you that on paper the system works great. The problem is with the staff. The individuals doing the rehabbing need to be rehabbed themselves. The pay is low. Therefore, you attract low caliber individuals. In this particular juvenile prison, I found paperwork hidden away which stated that over 90% of the individuals were recidivistic. Half of that 10% were already dead. This system works well with non violent offenders. I worked with violent offenders. One of the individuals was a gang hitman at the age of 12. He was a major drug dealer at the age of 14 with connections in California and Las Vegas where he was sent by the gang after he killed a second time. Once he was caught, he was given six months of rehab time (which has since been stiffned). Once he got out, he killed again and is now serving life in Jefferson City Maximum Security. Again, the "Missouri System" works well with non violent offenders. However, the "hug a thug" mentality does not work with violent offenders. The "violent offenders are the "rotten apples which spoil the barrell".

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Feb. 21, 2012 8:16 a.m.

    Research now suggests that teenage brains are more prone for risky behavior -- it's actually a good thing when it compels them to start trying to stand on their own feet, become independent, etc., part of maturing. But it also can lead to stupid behavior - because their brains cannot comprehend consequences all that well; not until full maturity.

    And so, to punish them like adults when they are incapable of thinking like adults -- just because they have big bodies is irrational. Granted, people need to learn discipline and responsibility, but society could also stand to demonstrate a bit more forgiveness.

    Research also shows that simply locking up someone is not as good as working with them along with their incarceration. Sure, some need a "time out" (aka prison), but then they need a way back. Youth especially need a future - one that they can look forward too.

  • Old Jake Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 21, 2012 8:13 a.m.

    Letting young impressionable people hang around the real problem kids only makes them worse.

    Good Job helping break the cycle of madness we have created. It clearly needs a little shaking up.

    Kind of like Congress. The career politicians are corrupting the young ones. It is a vicious cycle.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    Feb. 21, 2012 7:32 a.m.

    Amen to this. Someone told me that most juvenile offenders are charming people and from what I have seen, that is the case. But I was also told that when they get in a group then they are competing against one another. A group mentality kicks in. If it is a church group then they are going to be good. If it is a gang group, well, it may be different.