NO Throw Away Kids

I am deeply troubled by yesterday’s article in the Texas Tribune about kids in juvenile justice facilities being assessed in order to transfer the so-called bad ones to adult facilities. Jay Kimbrough, interim Executive Director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD), and Texas State Senator John Whitmire seem to think sending these children to adult facilities will prevent them from acting out violently and hold them “accountable.”

The reality is that these children will only learn more violent behaviors and will become the victims in a more violent and dangerous environment. I recently toured a high security Texas prison with one of my law school classes. It was far from a controlled, peaceful place. Guards told us about the prevalence of assaults both on other inmates and prison staff. According to a 2010 article in the Houston Chronicle, Texas prisons lead the nation in prison sexual abuse. Just Detention International found that “5 out of 10 prisons with the highest rate of sexual abuse in the country are in Texas.”

Sending these children to adult facilities is not for their benefit and does not benefit society. Shipping these kids to the adult system only communicates that we think you are un-saveable, and we refuse to try to help you anymore, essentially throw away kids. Personally, I do not believe in throw away kids.

Dr. Bruce Perry is an international authority in the area of child maltreatment and the impact of trauma and neglect on the developing brain. Dr. Perry believes that no child is unreachable, but instead needs the opportunity for repetitive therapeutic pattern activities to develop the appropriate coping and behavioral skills. In his article titled Keep the Cool in School, Promoting Non-Violent Behavior in Children, Dr. Perry states that “promoting a child’s emotional health is the most successful approach available to fighting violence.”

We are so quick to blame the kids when the systems designed to help them do not work. Maybe we should focus on why these systems are failing to rehabilitate these children?

Shiloh Carter

About Shiloh Carter

Shiloh Carter is working as a Graduate Fellow for the Center for Children, Law, & Policy. Prior to law school, Shiloh received her bachelor degree in Communications Sciences and Disorders from the University of Texas. As an undergraduate, she worked with children with special needs. During law school, Shiloh worked as a scholar for the Center for Children, Law, & Policy and completed internships with Kids In Need of a Defense (KIND) and the Crimes Against Children Section of the Galveston County District Attorney's Office. In addition, Shiloh volunteers with Child Advocates as a court appointed special advocate and has completed four cases. She has received numerous awards for her dedication to public interest work including the Center for Children, Law, & Policy Napoleon Beazley Defender Award 2013, the University of Houston Law Center Distinguished Service Award 2013, the Ann Dinsmore Forman Memorial Child Advocacy Award 2012, and the Robert Allen Memorial Student Excellence Award 2012.

One thought on “NO Throw Away Kids

  1. Cara Henley Johnson
    July 29, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    Well written Shiloh, there are no throw away kids. Sexual or physical abuse of youth offenders in adult facilities will not result in rehabilitation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.