My Legislature at Work

The state of Florida faces a number of serious problems. For example, the state child welfare system is something worse than a total disaster. Not only does it lose track of kids who then vanish, leave kids in dangerous homes, and cut off health care for poor kids with no alternatives but the state also runs a series of ‘boot camps’ for ‘young offenders’ in which state employees are encouraged to beat up children. We don’t know how many they have killed in the process, but we do know that the latest fatality happened to be captured on a video that sounds totally repulsive. Personally, I don’t have the stomach to watch it. (The autopsy, by the way, appears to have been phonied up by a local ME with an expired medical license who also has a record of botching autopsies. He said the death, shortly after the beating, was due to ‘natural causes’. Did I mention the victim was black?)

So what’s the Florida legislature worrying about? Why, the state pie of course! Should it be pecan or key lime? The battle lines are drawn!

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2 Responses to My Legislature at Work

  1. bricklayer says:

    Boot camps are just one of many options available to sentencing judges. We could just warehouse delinquents in jails. Does this one incident justify removing this option from juvenile justice completely? It seems to me there is a portion of the juvenile criminal population that can be saved by a good ass-kicking. Why not try?

    Many UM students do their clinical work with the juvenile criminal justice system. I seriously doubt you’ll find any of them that think that boot-camps aren’t worth a shot for some of the kids that have absolutely no notion of respect and discipline. Sure, many will recidivate, but if you turn around a small percentage, isn’t it worth it?

    I guess we could just have group counseling sessions for gang-bangers where they hold hands in a circle and talk about their feelings.

  2. Michael says:

    While I am no criminal justice expert, the newspapers report that (in addition to being moral cesspools) boot camps have higher recidivism rates than alternatives. As the camps are exempted by law from most of the control mechanisms that apply to other types of facility to which we sentence children, it’s hardly surprising they are a mess.

    The ineffectiveness of boot camps also seems to be supported in the academic litterature, for example James F. Anderson & Laronistine Dyson, A Four Year Tracking Investigation on Boot Camp Participants: a Study of Recidivism Outcome, 10 Justice Professional 199 (Sep 1997) which says basically that boot camps increase recidivism and are a waste of taxpayer money. (The article is available in the Richter electronic journals collection if you want to check on me.)

    As for what other students think, I will wait for them to speak for themselves. I doubt many of them are as cavalier about the moral aspects, but I’m always prepared to be surprised.

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