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Lacking Justice In The Juvenile Justice Forum



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To the Editor:

I write the following to express my disappointment in the recent Juvenile Justice Forum presented by Representatives Mitch Bolinsky, Tony Scott, and Senator Tony Hwang, featuring Judiciary Chair Craig Fishbein. I found the discussion to be extremely one-sided, focused on incarcerating juveniles by raising certain classifications from misdemeanors to felonies, thus moving these kids from the age of 12 up to adult court.

What was noticeably missing was suggestions on ways to address the origin of the problem or to provide substantive rehabilitation.

Violent crimes should be addressed with harsh penalties; however, I disagree that lowering punishment thresholds is the proper way to proceed. As instructed, I raised those questions by writing them in the “chat window” to be addressed by the moderator, Mr Bolinsky, and was ignored.

Another fellow Democrat raised a similar question and was likewise overlooked. I will give Mr Bolinsky the benefit of the doubt and chalk this troubling neglect up to coincidence or perhaps a chat-window malfunction. Nevertheless, that left the forum skewed towards punishment as the sole solution, with some token mention of how “nice” these juvenile detention facilities are.

The following day, there was another forum held in Fairfield on this issue by the representatives from that town. It was balanced, the history of the problem was better related, and it demonstrated the incredible burden that the police are under when trying to do right by these kids. It highlighted the multifaceted nature of the problem and how it therefore calls out for multipronged solutions that need to come from the community and from legislative and judicial entities all working together.

We cannot accomplish this if we are fed limited information that revolves around the simple solution of incarcerating children. The Newtown forum did not serve our community. We don’t need to be led by our representatives to a conclusion; we need them to provide substantive facts so we can direct them on how to best represent our will.

Alex Villamil

Sandy Hook

Comments are open. Be civil.
1 comment
  1. alureashli says:

    60,000 youth under the age of 18 are incarcerated in juvenile jails in the united states. Ultimately, the incarceration of minors stems down to the type of family that child grew up in. If the child grew up in a family with little to no structure, no discipline, and no adult figure constantly in their life, those would be the ones that would get in legal trouble and end up getting placed in a detention center. Data shows that majority of youth who are incarcerated are there because of personal offenses. Other times, it’s due to drugs or another violation. One of the main solutions to preventing the incarceration of minors is to change the way the justice system works. Minors should only be incarcerated if they are an actual threat to the community. For little offenses, they should be put on probation. Even though that solution can take time, we can start by offering programs to help at-risk minors stay on track. This program can be available to children who have been let out of incarceration so they won’t be likely to return and even those who are not incarcerated can benefit from this too because it can help prevent them from going down the wrong path. We can have people who experienced life behind bars and encourage at-risk kids to not follow their mistakes. By doing this, I feel as though it would be more effective and children will actually take away that, that lifestyle is no joke

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