Tuesday, January 30, 2007

our kids.

Baltimore Sun article on a 17 yr old who died after being restrained in a youth facility.
This makes me so sad.  Maryland has consistently had problems with their juvenile facilities, and frequently one of the issues that is highlighted is staff training.  Several years back, the DOJ intervened and wrote a scathing report that Maryland has been scrambling to clean up since then. 
A high school diploma is all that's required to work at these facilities, plus some training when hired.  I think what no one is willing to point out is that there are people in corrections who are just one conviction away from being just like the clients they serve.  They come from the same backgrounds and have similar behaviors and solve problems the same way - with violence.  Others are interested in a law enforcement career - cops on the make.  It never ceases to anger me, the utter lack of services or desire to provide services to incarcerated kids and adults. The U.S. has the highest rate of incarceration of any developed country, and in this country, society wants to see you convicted and / or incarcerated and doesn't want to see you again.  I have clients who do a year in jail at a time for possessing cocaine.  The past 20 years of their life have been spent like this, a revolving jail door.  The cops know them, and when they need an easy collar, they just roll up, pat them down, and throw them in the car.  (I've had several officers admit this to me.)  How has this helped society at all?  This hasn't made us safer, has it?  Can you believe how many taxpayer dollars are spent incarcerating people for being drug addicts?  Why don't we throw alcoholics in jail?  Why don't we incarcerate people for using too much gas in their SUVs or people who don't recycle?  Those choices are most certainly affecting the quality of our lives.
We should be making juvenile facilities in particular a career path for people who are trained in social services, who are dedicated to serving juveniles' educational and emotional needs.  These are our children.  There may juveniles in custody who are beyond these levels of care and who may need to be in custody just because they really are a danger to society, but sitting on them until they die is not a solution to the problem.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. HOwever, in a society that does not want to deal with juvenile offenders, they are not going to pay the extra money it would cost to have people with anything other than a high school diploma to do it.