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Posted at 6:45 PM ET, 04/27/2010

Why locking up youths is bad policy

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Elizabeth Alexander
Washington

The March 30 killings of four people in the District led to calls to “get tough on juvenile crime,” based on widely publicized charges against a 14-year-old. Now that it is clear that those charges were false, The Post should not continue to argue there are “legitimate concerns” [“A mistake undone,” editorial, April 24] about the extent to which the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services fails to keep youths charged with crimes locked up.

Data show that, in general, locking kids up leads to worse outcomes than alternatives to incarceration. Moreover, even the most dangerous youth held in secure facilities will not be there forever. Real behavioral change requires providing the resources to support confined youth when they return to the community.

While significant problems still exist, DYRS is developing a model program that tracks what research shows is by far the most effective ways to reduce criminal acts by youth. I hope that The Post will endorse rational solutions to the long-term challenges of the juvenile justice system and resist the temptation to join those who advocate making policy on the basis of anecdotes — particularly when the anecdotes are untrue.

The writer is a counsel for plaintiffs in Jerry M. vs. District of Columbia, a class-action lawsuit regarding the D.C. juvenile justice system.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | April 27, 2010; 6:45 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, Local blog network, crime  
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Comments

Ms. Alexander is right: locking up fatherless, soulless young criminals will almost never lead to a brighter, law-abiding future for them, and such a policy is, of course, very costly to taxpayers.

Thus I again advocate summary executions for the particularly violent imbeciles that comprise a dangerously incorrigible subset of the lifetime burdens to society produced by our self-dooming don't-snitch-hip-hop ghetto culture.

In addition to loosening police rules for use of deadly force, Congress should proceed with an override of D.C. gun laws so productive, lawful citizens can also contribute to the culling of our overpopulated crimnal herds.

Why, before you know it, D.C. could be largely free of juvenile crime as many young thugs would: be dead (and thus thankfully unable to breed the next generation of illegitimates), move out of town, or -- most optimistically -- decide to live upstanding lives, replete with academic effort, lawful employment through striving, marriage and the raising of well-adjusted children.

Posted by: mckdarrenDC | April 28, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Alexander is right: locking up fatherless, soulless young criminals will almost never lead to a brighter, law-abiding future for them, and such a policy is, of course, very costly to taxpayers.

Thus I again advocate summary executions for the particularly violent imbeciles that comprise a dangerously incorrigible subset of the lifetime burdens to society produced by our self-dooming don't-snitch-hip-hop ghetto culture.

In addition to loosening police rules for use of deadly force, Congress should proceed with an override of D.C. gun laws so productive, lawful citizens can also contribute to the culling of our overpopulated crimnal herds.

Why, before you know it, D.C. could be largely free of juvenile crime as many young thugs would: be dead (and thus thankfully unable to breed the next generation of illegitimates), move out of town, or -- most optimistically -- decide to live upstanding lives, replete with academic effort, lawful employment through striving, marriage and the raising of well-adjusted children.

Posted by: mckdarrenDC | April 28, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

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