#370 Don’t Teach Our Children Crime

Date: Thu, 3 Jul 2008
Subject: #370 Don’t Teach Our Children Crime


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DrugSense FOCUS Alert #370 – Thursday, 3 July 2008

The New York Times printed the editorial below today,

The editorial does not mention that our young people are often jailed
as a result of violating our draconian drug laws – which makes the
editorial a good target for your letters.

Please also contact your Senator both to support the bill and to
request that it be strengthened. Contacts for your Senator are at

Letter to the Editor of the New York Times should be sent quickly as
the newspaper usually prints letters resulting from editorials within
a few days – while the editorial itself is still fresh in their
readers minds.

The average letter printed in the newspaper is about 140 words in
length. Printed letters over 200 words are rare. Printed letters tend
to focus on one specific point in their editorials.

Yesterday the New York Times published an editorial “Not Winning the
War on Drugs” which was the subject of the alert at
http://www.mapinc.org/alert/0369.html Thank You to everyone who has
already sent a letter to the newspaper about that alert. Since the
paper did not print any letters in response to that editorial today,
your letter, if sent soon, could still be printed.


Pubdate: Thu, 3 Jul 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company

Contact: letters@nytimes.com

Don’t Teach Our Children Crime

Under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, the
states agreed to humanize their often Dickensian juvenile justice
systems in exchange for increased federal aid. This promising
arrangement collapsed in the 1990s during hysteria about an adolescent
crime wave that never materialized. The states intensified all kinds
of punishments for children and sent large numbers to adult jails
where, research has shown, they are more likely to be battered,
traumatized and transformed into hard-core, recidivist criminals.

Congress is in the process of reauthorizing the law, and it ought to
bar the states from housing children in adult jails, except for the
most heinous crimes. Sadly, the updated version of the law, recently
introduced in the Senate, falls short of that goal. But it does
include a number of farsighted measures that discourage the placement
of children in adult jails during the pretrial period and expands
protections for children charged as adults.

The need for these measures is alarmingly evident in a report issued
last year by the Campaign for Youth Justice, an advocacy group. The
report found that as many as 150,000 people under the age of 18 are
held in adult jails in any given year. More than half of young people
who are transferred into the adult system are never convicted as
adults — and many are never convicted at all.

The Senate bill takes a comprehensive approach to these issues. It
would considerably tighten rules aimed at keeping children out of
adult jails during pretrial periods. Children arrested for truancy,
running away or other offenses that would not be criminal if committed
by an adult would not be placed in juvenile jail unless absolutely

It also would require the states to work toward reducing racial and
ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system. It increases
federal funding for technical assistance and for drug treatment,
mental health care, mentoring and after-care programs that keep
children out of the juvenile system in the first place. The bill
advocates an evidence-based approach to hand out the money.

Jailing and criminalizing young Americans causes a lot more crime than
it punishes or prevents. This bill represents an important step toward
rational and compassionate justice for troubled children.


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Or contact MAP’s Media Activism Facilitator for tips on how to write
LTEs that are printed.




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Prepared by: The MAP Media Activism Team www.mapinc.org/resource