Confined Youth

Reader weigh in on youths in state homes and behind bars.

Is there a legitimate reason for keeping youth isolated in solitary confinement when, according to Harvey Hetzel, head of the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department, there are "enough beds to have certified youths" at the juvenile facilities? If this is true, the practice of housing certified juveniles needs to cease and desist.

I applaud the pro bono efforts of the Jones Day law firm in representing a certified juvenile. Currently, I am a law student who is planning on graduating in May 2010, and as a future member of the bar, I will seek to assist those who are isolated from achieving justice and equality.

Jerry D. Lee III

An online reader weighs in:

Tired of excuses: I feel different about the whole pity party regarding kids committing serious crimes. My story is, my nine-year-old child was sexually assaulted by a 14-year-old who already had a past history of felony assault in which he stabbed his mother. I spent six months going to trial every week to follow what was being done in my son's situation, and every week the CPS person stood in front of the judge stating that my son asked for what happened, that the 14-year-old just had a bad upbringing and that it wasn't his fault. The CPS worker wanted to release this 14-year-old back to his mother, even though she also violated her probation by fist-fighting with this kid. One week before trial, he pled guilty.

The point of my story is the first occurrence should have been the last, but the system failed him, his family and ours. So if these kids are certified as adults due to their actions, then it is time to face the music — that is why it is called jail. And at 14 years old, you should know right from wrong. Jail is not a playground, and when you commit serious crimes, you should be punished accordingly. Maybe sitting in solitude, they will have plenty of time to think about their actions, and due to the severity of confinement, maybe we won't see this kid in jail as an adult.

The only thing I feel may need to change is counselors visiting these kids on a regular basis to make sure they are dealing with the situation. That is where the state needs to be more effective and provide that to these inmates. I am so tried of excuses.

Comment by k from houston

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