September 05, 2009

Missouri Has Its Shit Together, Youthful Offenders!

Disclaimer: The photo to the left is NOT The Boy. But it does accurately represent the cuffs and leg shackles he wore on his way to court last Wednesday. Lucky for me and The Mister, those 'accessories' were removed before The Boy walked into the courtroom (but he was still clad in the ill-fitting beige jumpsuit). I would have completely lost my composure had I seen The Boy cuffed and shackled like that. It was bad enough when the detention center representative rattled the chains a few times while we sat in court.

If you've been reading my blog lately, you know of The Boy's recent legal difficulties. He's not your typical "guest" at the county detention center, but he's not alone, either - nationwide, 70% of juveniles in the criminal justice system have at least one diagnosed psychiatric condition.

Apparently, Missouri is on the cutting edge for their treatment of juvenile offenders - but only after they receive a sentence. You can read a New York Times article about "the Missouri Model" here.

If you're a juvenile who has been found guilty and sentenced for a crime in Missouri, you will most likely be placed in one of the state's regional residential centers, which functions like a group home. The juveniles housed there get counseling and education services. They try to place kids close to home, so that parents can participate in therapy with their children.

The recidivism rate for Missouri juveniles is among the lowest in the nation.

According to The Boy's Deputy Juvenile Officer (DJO), if The Boy behaves himself while he's on temporary probation (until his adjudication hearing on 9/25), a year of regular probation will be recommended to the court. The DJO will visit The Boy at school once a week; in addition, I will have to drive The Boy to a meeting at the DJO's office once every month.

There is no additional programming involved in probation. He will NOT receive any counseling. I asked if there were any Anger Management classes available (since its the aggressive outbursts that get The Boy into trouble) - we're waiting for a response on that one.

It seems to me that if a child gets sent to detention in Missouri, they get a better shot. Does anyone else see the irony here?

Don't you think it would also behoove the criminal justice system to create a more extensive probation program for youthful offenders who are NOT detained? We've done this probation thing before (in NY); obviously, it did not act as a deterrent in The Boy's mind.

Being jumpsuited, cuffed and shackled did leave an imprint on The Boy (literally and figuratively). Let's hope that that's one lesson he doesn't easily forget.


  1. The system is so messed up. I could go on forever ranting on about how I hate how many of our tax dollars are used for all the wrong things.

    I'm sorry counseling isn't available & I hope they're at least able to help with some anger management. I'm sure that'll help somewhat.

    Good luck!

  2. Just came by to thank you for the comment you left on my blog. I don't see myself reading those books anytime soon, not even to save my life. ha! ;0)

  3. I think I am going to hijack your blog today.

    Here's the deal. In our state and many other states throughout the country, counties pay for a youth shelter. These are holding places for ungovernable youth. A place for parents to drop off their kids for a couple of hours or a couple of days when they need a break from each other.

    On top of this, police officers, finding a child who has committed a misdemeanor crime, will bring the teen to said youth shelter. At three misdemeanors or a felony, the teen is taken to detention instead of the shelter.

    Once the adolescent has accessed the program, s/he is now "open" in the agency. The adolescent and family receives therapy with or without insurance for 60 days following the initial service on an outpatient basis.

    By the way, while at the shelter, the adolescent receives both group and individual therapy.

    Think how much money this saves the county/state and community at large. No group home. No expensive placement. The problem is nipped early on so intervention can be in place in their formative years.

    At least in our state, the budget deficits have caused lawmakers to rethink programs. The youth shelters in our state will no longer be funded. Period.

    Ungovernable youth and their parents will now be forced into the judicial system by default for the smallest infraction. There will be no place for parents to drop off their youth for a time-out.

    No intervention. No therapy.


    Thank you for letting me hijack.


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