Fry The Bastards

Rather than deal with systemic issues like poor education and income inequality that cause youth crime, we are just locking them away at an earlier age.
Photo: Barbara Rosner

Something that’s been popping up lately is violent crimes committed by kids. I say kids because that it what these people are, just kids. They say more and more violent crimes are being committed by kids and we need to crack down. Of course the solution that’s presented is trying children as adults. It’s all the rage to convict 12 year olds as adults in order to show they’re “tough on crime”. I think this is just another example of how misguided our judicial branch is in dispensing justice and how misguided as a whole the punishment system of America is.

Sending a 12 year old to prison for life or to sit on death row is not only morally wrong on any scale, but it not going to solve any problems or deter the cause of these violent crimes. Yet somehow, though our warped sense of revenge, we see this as the proper punishment for these children.

Just the other day I heard a state governor complaining that juvenile laws were set up to help rehabilitate these offenders and was causing him to have trouble passing new laws trying to convict them as adults. I can’t believe that this man can rationalize tearing down laws that protect these symbols of our own isolated, uncaring society in an effort to further destroy their lives.

Rather than focus on the punishment aspect, allocating larger and larger percentages of state budgets towards prisons, we need to get to the source of the problems that cause youth crime. It’s sad to say but the majority of states, including California, spend more money on prisons than education and the gaps keep widening.

I think Fragments zine said it best when they had a cartoon of Newt Gingrich saying “We’re going to take the money for your education and use it to build shiny, new prison cells for you.” By not giving the kids the resources to be able to compete in a capitalist society obsessed with growth and the bottom line, we ensure their doom.

There are other factors contributing to the problem but I want to stay focused on education. Education is the single most important factor in deciding future success and, as happiness is tied to monetary success, by taking away resources from education, you deprive more and more kids of a chance to succeed. We all know that public education today is complete shit. It desperately needs resources but in our zeal to try and squelch a symptom of this problem and not its root, we wrongly punish the victims of our own near sighted economic and political policies.

Needless to say, we are focusing our energy and resources on the end result of our long chain of internal misgovernment and not its cause. Apply these same resources to education and after school programs and I can guarantee we would see a drop in violent youth crime. Of course we can always continue to support the booming industry that prison construction and management has become…

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