Thursday, June 22, 2006

Knowledge Is A Weapon

Posted by Codemorse

When the school day ends at Cook County's temporary juvenile detention center, hundreds of students must leave essential education tools behind: their textbooks. Such centers commonly prohibit the unsupervised use of hardcover books and basic school supplies like pencils out of concern the youths could use the items for violence.

Child welfare advocates, however, say the rules can create a prison-like atmosphere that discourages rehabilitation. "Any facility ought to be safe and secure enough for kids to have books," said Betsy Clarke, president of the Juvenile Justice Initiative....

...."Teachers consistently said they do not assign homework because staff do not allow the youths to bring books or even pages to come back up the unit," the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative concluded after reviewing practices at the facility in December.

Jerry Robinson, superintendent of the detention center, said the assessment was unfair because access to education tools is restricted, but not banned. "They have the ability to get a pencil," Robinson said. "They can write letters. We just control it so (the pencil) is not kept in the room."

....The detention center is home to Chicago area youths between the ages of 10 and 17 who have been accused of committing crimes ranging from theft to murder. On any given day, between 450 and 500 youths in grades 4-12 are held. Most are adolescent males who've gotten caught up in gangs, guns and drugs. The average stay is 14 to 28 days but can last up to three months or longer.

....Detention officials in other big cities like New York and Los Angeles also restrict textbook use in juvenile centers. "What they could do is stick it in their pillow case and use it as a weapon," said Larry Rubin, director of the agency that oversees incarcerated youths in Los Angeles. "You could really hit somebody pretty hard with it."

It occurs to me that you could also hit someone pretty hard with your skull. Shall we confiscate their skulls during cell hours?

In seriousness, there are very understandable reasons for not wanting juvenile offenders to have access to potential weapons. It's just sort of ironic that books fall under that heading. Why don't these folks simply cut out the hard covers like we used to do in high school? Turn the books into makeshift soft covers? Or arrange for lucrative partnerships with text book companies to produce non-lethal text books for the cell block set?

C'mon, people. There's money to be made here. Surely, if education and rehabilitation doesn't get you all tingly, then making cold hard cash off the juvies does?


At 9:12 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Paper crossbow man.

At 9:13 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Try this.

At 9:35 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

That's fascinating.

Is prison where MacGyver picked up all his amazing skills? Between sally-sessions with cellmate Bruno "The Magician" Steele?

At 11:10 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Necessity is the mother of invention.


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