US Catholic Faith in Real Life

No more locking kids up and throwing away the key

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In a victory for restorative justice advocates Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that juveniles who have not committed murder cannot be sent to jail for life.

No reaction from the U.S. bishops yet, but they supported the 2005 decision to not execute those under age of 18 (along with everybody else in the world...besides Somalia and before 2005, the United States). Up until now, the United States has been the only country in the world to imprison juveniles not guilty of murder for life, according to Reuters' story.

Certainly, some will fear that this ruling will free dangerous criminals back into the public. Unfortunately, it's probably true that most kids come out of jail more hardened than when they went in. But this problem speaks to our need for reform of our prison system and not to the need to lock up a kid and throw away the key. We need restorative, not criminal, justice.

It is a kid's faults if he or she commits a crime; it is our fault if we cannot put the child on the right path after a stay in prison. It's silly that up until now, we punished kids for our problem.

Read more on youth violence.