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Letter to the Editor: Students oppose plan that pays young offenders

Sunday, January 20, 2002

Editor's note: Ten students -- Jessica Huff, Jake Culver, Lori Wolfe, Brian Meredith, Jackson Greene, Matt Holshouser, Tiffany Henderson, Sarah Hale, Tiffany Ashby and Darren J. Henderson -- at the Alternative Education Center in Cape Girardeau wrote letters to the editor after they read the Jan. 9 article, "A matter of respect," in the Southeast Missourian. The article described the Respect Yourself program at the Cape Family Resource Center that gives teen-agers -- most referred by the juvenile court system -- $100 for watching 12 hours of videos and a $25 bonus for completing a citizenship package. All of the AEC students voiced their opposition to the program in their letters. Here is an example:

To the editor:

I think the Respect Yourself program is not a very good program at all. You shouldn't pay juveniles to steal. That is how I see this program. They steal. They watch movies. They get $125, clothes and a job. Sounds like fun to me.

The teen-agers should not be rewarded for breaking the law. They should get jail time and fines.

The money for this program should be used to get non-criminals jobs. I went out and found a job in one day with no problem. Anyone can get a job. You just really have to be committed to get a job.

DARREN J. HENDERSON

Student

Alternative Education Center

Cape Girardeau