MN is attempting to become the 4th state to prosecute very young children as adults.
The children that commit these crimes have almost all come out of horribly abusive homes. As a nation, we have avoided even a basic effort to ensure that American youth have at least a small chance to lead a normal life. The rest of the industrialized world has left us behind in this measurement.
The last MN governor (Tim Pawlenty) was quoted as saying that “children that are the victims of failed personal responsibility are not my problem, nor are they the problem of the state of MN”
After many years of working with abused and neglected children, I have witnessed the grim reality of MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz statement that “90% of the youth in the justice systems have come through child protection services”.
Not many Edina or Suburban MN youth end up in County Child Protection (their families have insurance, day care, and mental health programs for troubled youth).
The children in Child Protection are there under the federal “Imminent Harm Doctrine” and have been removed from their homes because their lives have been endangered by their birth parents.
As a volunteer guardian ad-Litem, I can testify to the trauma abused and neglected children live with every day. The World Health Organization defines torture as “extended exposure to violence and deprivation”. This is exactly what I have witnessed happening to the children in my case load in Hennepin County MN.
Hating the parents solves nothing. They were almost all abused themselves as children. Many of them are preteen moms with no parenting skills and their own dysfunctional lives.
It’s horrid enough to witness the abuse these children live with all of their young lives. To think that five and ten year old children have not been punished enough by living with sex abuse, neglect, and other unspeakable act, that we must try them as adults and make sure that they never have any chance of living a normal life is just awful.
Once these children enter a criminal adult system they are ruined forever. The rape and insanity of youth entering the criminal justice system is well documented.
It is extremely costly to our state to try and solve these problems with more prison building (it’s also immoral).
It is common that these children will spend 30 to 60 years as returning felons, wards of the state, and dysfunctional citizens unable to hold a job or avoid drug dependency. Consider also the many years of violence and perpetual criminal behavior our prison system fosters.
MN spent 500 million on prisons last year. New York and California spend $250,000 per year on each youth in their juvenile justice systems.
It would be far less costly to our communities to provide resources to young and troubled families to insure that young children receive what they need to lead a normal life.
Just a few years ago a federal mandate forbid the the execution of youth that had committed crimes as juveniles.
Representative Westrom’s bill to try 10 year olds as adults is a step backwards and completely destroys any chance that an already abused and neglected child will ever have the opportunity to lead a normal life.
While this is harsh, I see the motivation for Jonathon Swift’s Modest Proposal;the children he speaks of lead such miserable lives, that killing them early would reduce their suffering.
Abandoning children to a criminal justice system that rapes and destroys them may be worse than death.