As I recall, little boys are obsessed not only with superheroes and cars and firemen and guns, but also the concept of jail and bad guys.  As they get older, few places loom larger in their imaginations than the mythical place called Juvie.  When we drive by our local Juvenile Hall en route to the indoor skateboard park, questions and comments always arise.  “Mom, do we know anyone who’s ever been sent there?  Has anyone ever escaped?  I never see people outside, when do they let them out to play basketball?”

The idea of a jail for big kids is morbidly fascinating to kids of school age.  They worry for the teenagers who are “inside,” and they worry they might be sent there some day.  That fear seemed far-fetched, until I read this in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer.  Two judges in Luzerne County, PA have been convicted of sentencing children as young as 13 to Juvenile Hall and expensive wilderness camps for such crimes as 1.  lying  2.  stealing loose change from unlocked cars  3.  shoplifting a $4 jar of nutmeg (my mind snagged on this detail – what kind of a kid would steal nutmeg?  Did the mom need it for a recipe but she had no money?  Was the shoplifter an aspiring chef?  Shouldn’t we be rewarding kids for choosing nutmeg instead of Doritos, even if it’s pocketed?)

It turns out the judges were themselves lying and stealing.  They were getting kickbacks from the juvenile corrections people.  And they were lying about it.  Talk about wicked collusion.  These grown men, entrusted by society to make wise and fair decisions, were being bribed to tear young kids away from their families for petty, ordinary infractions.   Imagine the trauma their “cure” has caused.  One attorney involved in the class-action suit said this was ”one of the worst judicial scandals in history.”   The judges have agreed to serve more than 7 years in federal prison but have not yet been sentenced.

I have an idea.

Let’s demand poetic justice here.  Send the judges to wilderness camp for 3.5 years.  Their counselors will be kids they sentenced to the same fate, working on rotation.  “Chop that wood for 8 hours, then you can have 30 minutes for lemonade and cookies and berries right outside that den where the bears are stirring.”

The next 3.5 years of their sentence should be served in Juvenile Hall in Luzerne County.  Their jailers, of course, will be the kids they condemned.  “Mop the floors for 8 hours, with your tongue.  After that, a plate of slop.  If you still have the taste of Murphy’s Oil Soap in your mouth, we’ll have some nutmeg shavings on the side.”

Definitely, no basketball privileges. 

This story is one for the anals (sic) of crime and punishment.


Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter