Two Myths

September 6, 2007

Many of you know that my teenage son has found himself in a bit of trouble. Going through it all has disillusioned me on a few things.

Speedy Trial – Like many Americans who have had no interaction with the world of criminal justice, I thought that we had a right to a speedy trial. I have been told “no one in Pierce County gets a speedy trial.” (Seems like we either need more courts or fewer proceedings.) My son was involved in an incident in June 2006 when he was 16. There are seven co-defendants. The original trial date was October 2006. It has been continued and continued and the next theoretical date is October 2007. I also thought that a minor child would be detained in the youth facility. Alas, since the County has chosen to try him as an adult, the boy sits in (adult) County Jail, awaiting trial.

No Child Left Behind – So if we have a child sitting in jail (a captive audience, if ever there was one!) I would have thought that there would be some sort of school required for him to attend. That is not the case. An attorney familiar with the system sums it up thusly: “We are not in the business of rehabilitation, we are in the business of punishment.” I see that as another example of my country’s short-sightedness. Never having been much of “an eye for and eye” kind of gal, my belief system is a little different. I think our jails and prisons should be places we put people from whom society needs protecting.

If we believe that each child has a right to “a free and appropriate education” enough to enact laws to support that, why then do we not apply it across the board? Who needs a basic education more than a kid who is already at risk? The irony is that during the time he spends with the inmates in County Jail, he is getting an education whether we like it or not. He is learning how to be a better criminal.

Perhaps this weekend I will write to my congress people and ask their opinions.

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One Response to “Two Myths”

  1. Wendy Says:

    I know all too well the snails pace of the Pierce County courts. They make it seem like they are fast, having a 6 month scheduling unlike King County where your date is automatically set 1 year out, but they bump you and bump you as other cases bleed over into your scheduled time. My case took two years and we didn’t even get a real judge. We had a pro-tem judge (an attorney wearing a robe). I would think a case like yours would move faster as mine was over stuff, not people.
    I wish you speed and justice.


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