As we walked across the open yard of Lino Lakes Correctional Facility in Minnesota, a cold wind whipped by, as one would expect north of the Twin Cities. The yard was isolated and drab, with brown grass showing through a skiff of early-winter snow.
Early Saturday morning I went down to the beach with my dog for our daily run. It was still the beginning of the season so I expected the long strand to be deserted, an ideal place for man and dog to ponder the beauty of unspoiled nature and to run unhindered.
We lock away too many juvenile offenders for too long and it’s costing our kids and our money. Our goal must be to provide real and lasting opportunities for change in these teens who commit crimes.
While Justice Fellowship works for juveniles to be accountable for crimes committed, we also understand that warehousing juveniles away from society, and in some cases with adults, does more harm than good.
Over 2.2 million juveniles are arrested each year in America. That’s equivalent to arresting the average student body population at 3,116 high schools each year. Yes, you read correctly, I said “high schools.” To arrest this many teens is dangerous to society.
The New York Times has a new feature called “Room for Debate,” which invites outside contributors to discuss current news events and issues facing the culture. This week, Craig DeRoche, former House Speaker of Michigan and now Director of External Affairs at Justice Fellowship, contributes his first column on A Failing Criminal Justice System.