My Turn: Theory no juvenile offenders also applies to adults
Kudos to Reps. Mary Beth Walz and Daniel Itse for supporting HB 1624 (Monitor, April 12), which seeks to raise the age for juveniles to be prosecuted as adults in most cases from 17 to 18.
Unfortunately, they fail to acknowledge that their reasoning also applies to adults in the criminal justice system.
Walz and Itse first argue that sending juveniles to adult prison “increases the likelihood that they will repeat their crimes and move on to more serious ones.” But this is true regardless of the age of the person imprisoned.
The question is, why is this so?
Walz and Itse hint at their reason when alluding to the lack of adequate education, counseling, and rehabilitative programs and training within our prisons.
They reasonably argue for increasing the availability of such services within the juvenile system, but sadly, as always, the adult system isn’t given a thought.
It must be recognized that juvenile offenders do not just materialize from nowhere.
Many are the children of the men and women who have been caught up in our criminal justice system, where resources are thin and true rehabilitation is an afterthought at best.
Prisons are little more than human warehouses, often causing more harm than good. Sadly, ignoring the adult segment all but guarantees a steady flow of both juveniles and adults back into the system.
This self-perpetuating cycle must end.
According to the Walz and Itse, “We have the ability to help kids who get into trouble turn their lives around.”
If so, then we have the ability to help all offenders, regardless of age, “turn their lives around” and to overcome the acknowledged “huge barrier to a successful future” that comes in the form of a criminal record.
The question is, are those who control the justice system willing to sacrifice their livelihoods for the greater good? I’ll believe that when I see it.
(David Fischer is an inmate at the state prison in Concord.)