xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Jail won’t solve problems originating from child poverty and abuse | READER COMMENTARY

Detention center workers escort youths through the halls of the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Florida. File.
Detention center workers escort youths through the halls of the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Florida. File. (PHELAN M. EBENHACK / TNS)

In defending youth prisons in remote corners of the state (“Maryland spent $5.8 million on a youth jail against expert advice. Now its closure could mark a shift in juvenile justice,” Dec. 18), Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger stated, “I know you have had clients who are living in neighborhoods and homes that are absolutely horrible conditions and situations and you can see the path they’re going to be led on. Aren’t there times when getting them out of that environment might be better?”

Is Mr. Shellenberger seriously proposing that jailing children is an appropriate response to poverty and child abuse? Children have no say in the conditions they are born into. However, we adults, and especially adults in positions such as Mr. Shellenberger’s can influence those conditions.

Advertisement

Why not instead of preemptively jailing children for being born into impoverished neighborhoods (conditions that have been created through redlining and other racist policies), we invest in neighborhoods, support parents, fund education and provide social services so that no child in the United States is living in “horrible conditions and situations?”

Why don’t we look at the strengths that exist within neighborhoods that Mr. Shellenberger characterizes as “horrible?” We are likely to find community activists, grandparents, teachers, religious leaders and neighbors supporting one another while the officials are busy building more jails to send children to and justifying the use of the jails by deploring the conditions of the neighborhoods we have disinvested in.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Amy Greensfelder, Baltimore

Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement