Letter to the Editor

Juvenile justice needs reform

Friday, August 15, 2008

To the editor:

We appreciate the coverage the Southeast Missourian is giving to juvenile-offender reform. I would like to clarify a statement in the Aug. 9 article.

Jonathan had requested to be put in the juvenile program and had been evaluated and accepted into it. His request was denied because Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle wanted the harshest punishment possible as an adult for him. Judge David Dolan imposed that sentence.

While it is true the judge has to take all things into consideration, the state juvenile personnel do not have to recommend a juvenile be placed in the program if, in their opinion, the juvenile can't be rehabilitated. The head of the state juvenile department testified at Jonathan's hearing recommending he be placed in the juvenile program.

The fact that our family has personal experience in this is the reason we feel strongly in favor of juvenile-justice reform. Jonathan would be alive today and have a chance at a bright future if he had been given an opportunity to pay for his crime in an environment that would guide, educate and help him with becoming an adult.