July 7, 2015 by Chris Kite
This is a horrifying story about how poor youth in America (often minority) are subjected to what is essentially a totally separate justice system than wealthier white kids. If you have money and can afford a lawyer, that helps a ton, but it still requires you to overcome bias by judges and prosecutors. The plain and simple fact, which is undebatable, is that black kids are incarcerated at a far higher rate than white kids. Even when the crimes are the same.
The real story to me is how we are throwing away the lives of these children by making no attempt to rehabilitate them. Prison can serve three purposes. It can get criminals off the streets. It can punish people and try to make the penalties for crimes unattractive enough to deter crime. And it can rehabilitate people so that they can become productive members of society.
It is clearly in the nation’s best interest to try to rehabilitate as many people as possible. It is best for those people and their families, it is best for society, and it saves taxpayers money. This should be a universally accepted goal.
But by putting minors in prison with adults, we are taking away their hope, failing to rehabilitate them, and exposing them to a “professional” criminal mindset. By housing them with hardcore criminals we are subjecting them to brutal conditions that destroy their humanity and take away any opportunity to turn them into productive citizens.
It is a depressing and ugly article. But it needs to be understood if we are going to have any hope of losing our title of having more people imprisoned than any other nation on earth.