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FROM: The Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Consistency absent from juvenile system
The Daily Advertiser Editorial Board
February 6, 2003


Juvenile offenses handled differently in different parts of state.

We Suggest:

It is one of many problems that must be solved.

We have learned much in recent years about the deficiencies of Louisiana¹s juvenile justice system. The most disturbing revelations have been about the administration of corrections facilities for young people. Investigations have revealed a failure in more than one prison to protect juvenile inmates from physical abuse and even rape. Among other problems identified by a special commission, the juvenile justice system is underfunded, lacks effective treatment options, and puts children guilty of property crimes or minor drug offenses in the company of those who are violent and dangerous.

Now, a revelation by Judge Nancy Konrad of Harvey makes us wonder if there is a juvenile justice ³system² at all. It appears the state has a hodge-podge of procedures that differ from one location to another. Konrad, speaking to the state Juvenile Justice Commission, said offenses are handled differently in different areas of the state. Punishment varies from court to court. ³We don't deliver services for kids,² Konrad said. ³We just play like we deliver services for kids.²

It is time for Louisiana to take action. The commission has outlined the needs. Safety of the children is basic. Other pressing needs include more alternatives to incarceration, funding more prevention programs, better coordination between agencies, creation of a system to track juveniles after they are freed from detention; launching community-based mentoring programs and expanding substance abuse counseling. The course has been outlined. Louisiana must move forward.



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