aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The NYTimes says the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 is up for reauthorization, and that’s an opportunity for needed reform:
As incredible as it seems, many states regard a child as young as 10 as competent to stand trial in juvenile court. More than 40 states regard children as young as 14 as “of age” and old enough to stand trial in adult court. The scope of the problem is laid out in a new report entitled Jailing Juveniles from the Campaign for Youth Justice, an advocacy group based in Washington. Statistics are notoriously hard to get, but perhaps as many as 150,000 young people under the age of 18 are incarcerated in adult jails in any given year.
As many as half of the young people who are transferred to the adult system are never convicted as adults. Many are never convicted at all. By the time the process has run its course, however, one in five of these young people will have spent more than six months in adult jails.
Some jails try to protect young inmates by placing them in isolation, where they are locked in small cells for 23 hours a day. This worsens mental disorders. The study says that young people are 36 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than in a juvenile facility. Young people who survive adult jail too often return home as damaged and dangerous people. Studies show that they are far more likely to commit violent crimes - and to end up back inside - than those who are handled through the juvenile courts.
The rush to criminalize children has set the country on a dangerous path. Congress must now reshape the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act so that it provides the states with the money and the expertise they need to develop more enlightened juvenile justice policies. For starters, it should rewrite the law to prohibit the confinement of children in adult jails.
I recently attended a community forum on rewriting the Juvenile Justice Code in Georgia. I was the only non-professional, the only interested citizen, to attend. Hosted by JUST Georgia, they have an ambitious plan to overhaul the entire outdated inadequate system here.
I was impressed by everyone there and all I heard. My one piece of feedback to them was that there will need to be citizen participation, broad citizen support and understanding, if they imagine they will get such an overhaul through the Georgia legislature.
RELATED: Can a 9-year-old be a rapist?
Can a 9-year-old be a rapist?
I don’t think so. He can be sick; he can need help or treatment. But a criminal rapist in the sense that I understand it? The answer is just plain no!
I’ve been watching this story since it broke, speechless and wondering. How can a rational evaluation of even the basic facts be made through the filter of a sensationalist market press that has only one interest - making money.
A 9-year-old rapist is a market opportunity, three a market bonanza in today’s media ecology. Most especially, it seems, here in the Bible Belt. One of the boys is characterized as a third grader at a local Baptist school and a batboy for his church’s softball league.
We know that factoid for what reason except as an exclamation point for our disgusted outrage?
The only reasoned response I’ve seen is digby’s:
I do not have any doubt that it’s possible that these boys “raped” this girl. The legal definition doesn’t require penetration (and for all I know maybe that happened too.) If they did it, then they need to be dealt with in the juvenile system and given intense psychological counseling.
But what if it was “consensual” in the sense that the kids were all playing a game or the boys thought they were, or any number of other possible scenarios? Remember, we are talking about 8 and 9 year olds. They’re all hardly more than babies. No matter what it was, it cannot, by definition, be legally equivalent to a gang rape by adults or even teen-agers.
But this police chief says that even if it was a game or there were some other mitigating factors, the girl cannot, under the law, consent. Again, I’m not saying that it couldn’t have happened just as this little girl said it did. But it’s obvious to me that if an 8 year old can’t consent to sex --- which I agree, she can’t --- it’s equally clear that 8 and 9 year old boys cannot “rape” in the legal sense.
American culture has always been violent and somewhat backwards in these ways, at least compared to other first world countries. But in the last couple of decades we seem to be nurturing it to the extent we have lost all common sense and certainly any sense of proportion. Arresting little boys on charges of felony rape is not only ridiculous on it’s face, it demeans the entire justice system.
There is such a thing as prosecutorial discretion, something that is in very short supply in the Georgia legal system, apparently.
I whole-heartedly blame the prosecutor, but it’s the population that needs to wake up.
Philadelphia’s Boy Scout Ultimatum. And gay wedding.
Gay-friendly news from Philadelphia. WaPo:
This may be the last free Thanksgiving dinner for the Boy Scouts of Philadelphia.
Citing a local 1982 “fair practices” law, the city solicitor has given the Scouts until Dec. 3 to renounce its policy of excluding homosexuals or forfeit the grand, Beaux-Arts building it has rented from the city for $1 a year since 1928.
And this weekend Philly mayor John Street will preside over a gay colleague’s wedding.
With 125 guests expected, it will resemble in every way a traditional wedding but will have no legal standing, since Pennsylvania prohibits gay marriage.
Mahjoubian, 33, and Ryan Bunch, 32, will wear matching black tuxedos with orange vests. There will be a 10-person wedding party; each groom’s best man happens to be a woman. Mahjoubian and Bunch will say their vows, exchange wedding rings, then leave for a reception at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. [...]
For Mahjoubian and Bunch, it’s as much a political statement as a show of their love before family and friends. For Street, who has performed fewer than 10 weddings as mayor, it’s anything but.
“Micah is my friend. He has been in my campaign and has been in my administration for eight years,” Street said. Currently, Mahjoubian is his deputy secretary of external affairs. “I’ve come to respect him as a person, and if this is something he would like for me to do, then I’d like to do it for him.”
Amazon’s Kindle Reader
First look, it isn’t like reading actual paper. Emphasis in original.
I was going to completely ignore this meme. eBook readers are stupid. The iPhone and Blackberry and services like DailyLit that deliver books via email and RSS to any device are the way to go. [...]
...you probably can’t get this blog on the Kindle. But it’s easily readable on an iPhone or a Blackberry and that’s where mobile content is headed, not to some big, heavy, proprietary device that charges to subscribe to content. Losers is right…
Firefox 3 beta released
A few months later than had been planned, Mozilla released on Monday night the first beta version of an overhauled Firefox, the widely used open-source Web browser.
Firefox 3 beta 1 includes a number of significant features that Mozilla said should improve security, ease of use, rendering of Web pages, and location of previously visited Web pages. And for the new era of rich Internet applications, the browser can run Web-based applications even when the computer is disconnected from a network.
Download it here.
Or will John win Macon?
Ahem...all love here for Obama, but John Edwards will win Macon in the primary. Yes, Bibb County has traditionally voted for Democrats, when taken as a whole, and the City of Macon is decidedly Democratic. Sen. Robert Brown, who drives GOTV in Democratic primaries in Middle Georgia, has endorsed John Edwards as have other key local leaders in the mid-state. Add to that the often ignored fact that despite Obama’s haul in Atlanta, Edwards has out-raised Obama by a greater than three to one margin in South Georgia zip codes, including Macon. Did I mention that south of I-20, Edwards has out-raised every single other candidate-Democrat or Republican? That may be because the Edwards have visited Macon three times since January, plus going to Americus, as a guest of Carter, where he drew a crowd of over 2,000 people. I think the moral of the story here is that you have to actually campaign in Macon to win Macon. Edwards’ roots are deep here, as is his support. He carries Bibb County on February 5th-and again in November.
To make my own position a tad clearer, I am thrilled with the Democratic field and could vote for any of them, though I think that now I’m tilting towards Hillary. Until I fall for any one candidate, I’ll revel in the positives of all of them.
BIG Media = BAD Media
This week on Bill Moyers Journal:
On November 2, 2007, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin announced that the Commission would hold the sixth and final public hearing on media consolidation November 9, 2007 in Seattle, Washington. Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein blasted the Chairman’s decision to give the public only five business days notice before the hearing:
“With such short notice, many people will be shut out ... This is outrageous and not how important media policy should be made.”
The people agree. Watch through to the end: