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Showing posts from March, 2010

A Failure of Imagination

I remember years ago, while reading "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," one small incident stood out to me. As a child of 13, he had his first experience with the Juvenile Justice System when he was placed in a locked facility for putting a tack on his teacher's chair. That would have been in 1938 and I suspect that those kinds of things were fairly common at the time. Children were not afforded the same rights as adults when it came to things like incarceration and the right to the presentation of evidence of a crime before punishment was meted out. Those things changed in 1974 with the passage of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act , an outgrowth of the Great Society Programs. The major thrust of that legislation was to say that juveniles have to commit an actual crime in order to be locked up. As part of this movement, community-based agencies grew up all over the country to work with youth who were behaving badly, but had not committed actual crimes.