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Punishments for juvenile offenders under scrutiny

Disciplining children has long been a source of contention and conflict. In more recent years, many who believe in a more stern upbringing and doling out measured physical reprimand may be subjected to public outcries over the abuse of a child. Accepted levels of punishment for children and juveniles is likely to remain a moving target but in the criminal justice system, the rush to push some of the harsher penalties on somewhat minor actions seems downright inhumane.

A recent case in point involved a 16-year-old child with alleged mental health issues who, his mother claims, has the mental capacity of a nine-year-old. He was reprimanded for allegedly playing catch with a friend with a piece of rubber he found. Punishment for not hearing the officers demand that he stop? Lock up in solitary confinement for an entire month. He was further reprimanded after being accused of wetting tissues to create spit-wads he reportedly threw at windows of the cell-block. He denied the accusation, saying it was another inmate who was responsible.

Solitary confinement is extreme and it is an overly harsh penalty for the wrongdoing on the part of the youth. In fact, Obama has banned the use of such a punishment on juveniles in the nation's federal prisons. Solitary confinement has been removed from the punishment options at some jails in New York, but not all.

If your child has gotten in trouble and is facing serious charges, whether tried as a juvenile or an adult, you could benefit from knowledgeable representation familiar with New York state courts and jails. There may be ways to avoid some punishments and reduce others.

Source: Syracuse.com, "Spitballs and throwing things - 50 days in solitary confinement for Auburn teen," July 19, 2016

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