Letter to the Editor
DYS programs deserve more local support
Saturday, September 6, 2003
To the editor:
Mike Wells and the Southeast Missourian are to be commended for the excellent articles on our local Missouri Division of Youth Service programs. I was a young man right out of college who went to work at the Boonville Training School for Boys before entering seminary. Thirty years ago I served as corrections counselor for nearly 30 youths.
I suspect the training-school model of corrections then produced more failures than success, even though most of the staff did their best. One really troubled youth could infect hundreds of other more innocent youth in a climate that too often resulted in punishment rather than rehabilitation.
Mark Steward and all the local staff are to be congratulated on their care and correction of troubled youths from our communities. Yes, more local support is needed. Local care and correction for troubled youths is essential. I would ask our community to do more for our DYS programs. Caring families, churches and communities are needed to help redirect these youths. Our city and county leaders must recognize that these youths have much potential for good or bad. Adequate facilities, programs and community support are needed now so we don't have to continue to build more and larger prisons in the future. Each youth is a precious gift from God regardless of past poor behavior. As we celebrate the success of the Division of Youth Services let us be reminded that responsibility to help youths belongs in the family and our community.
The REV. DR. CLAYTON L. SMITH
Centenary United Methodist Church