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Re: “The Young and the Restless

It's really a shame that this article was presented in such a biased direction. As an attendee of the conference, and youth advocate that works with youth on probation, it is very easy to see that Anneli Rufus is clearly uneducated about what is going on within the juvenile justice system and why there is such a huge cry for reformation.

You failed to mention much of what Bernadine Dohrn had to say about injustice, inequality and its effects on how minority youth are treated. Do you remember her talking about the four young men in New York City who were incarcerated for a total of 40 years for a brutal rape and murder that they did not commit? Did you not listen to how that crime alone spread through the media like wildfire, igniting knee-jerk arrest and prosecution of youth. Obviously, you didn't. Obviously you missed out on why the California Youth Authority has been renamed, staff have been removed and replaced due to the numerous reports of abuse of inmates by guards. You also failed to mention the reports that showed that upper-class white youth do and sell more drugs than low-income, at-risk, minority youth, but fall off of the radar because their families have enough money to send them to quality programs and therapy that help the youth, while the police are not looking for them and are heavily concentrated in low-income communities.

You didn't go to the discussion on youth with disabilities in the juvenile justice system. The majority of the youth have a documented disability that is not being recognized by courts and not being treated by the system. It was also shown, at the very same conference, that there are therapuetic measures that have been known to keep youth from re-offending but those measures, for some odd reason, continually do not get funded by our state officials.

Reality bites. White Supremacy, injustice in the justice system, unfair and unequal treatment are realities of what low-income people, not only juveniles, have to face everyday. One of my youth came in with a huge scar on his face yesterday ... thrown down on the street by a police officer ... then let go. Another hasn't returned after being pepper-sprayed and choked after his not following the officers orders to put out his cigarrette. He and that same officer have had multiple run-ins. Another was handcuffed, harrassed ... "where are the drugs? where are the guns?" ... uncuffed then let go.

Is there crime? Oh yes. There is enough crime to go around. From the White House all the way down into the grimiest corners of the ghetto. Crime can be seen as a mirror of injustice. Injustice causes stress. Stress causes a lot of diseases, internal and external, that our society has to learn to manage and deal with. It has been proven that the punishment model does not work; It makes more criminals. Restorative Justice is a form of justice that teaches youth to take responsibility for their actions while at the same time involving them in retribution activities - not just sitting in a small cell developing anger and hatred. But, obviously, as this was not in your article - you missed that point to.

The United States needs reform. Plain and simple. From the top to the bottom. It is clear that our old models are ineffective. Something has to change when heads of states can get away with crimes and the youth can't; when others slide out of the grasp of justice, while others live injustice. Pointing out crimes, and punishing those crimes is pointless ... reform is the movement. Without reform we continue down the same path that we have been on for centruries.

That path ends violently - as war is evidence of the fact.

Posted by Brandon on 11/30/2007 at 12:10 PM

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