Readers of our criminal law blog posts occasionally note Shazam Kianpour & Associates’ close focus on young people in Colorado and nationally. For purposes of our blog entries, that means children/minors interacting with the criminal justice system.
They don’t want to do that, of course. Involvement with law enforcers and exposure to the intimidating atmosphere of the criminal law realm is frightening.
And as stressful as it is for any adult, it is even more harrowing to an adolescent.
As an adult reader of this blog, harken back for a moment to your youth. Do you remember how you acted when encountering a suddenly stressful situation or environment? Did you perhaps act out defensively or with seeming disinterest?
Many kids do, although they are pulsing with fear and uncertainty.
Adults often don’t get that. Specifically, they don’t perceive that a young person is trying to deal with a harsh challenge but simply doesn’t know how to do so.
Kids often pay the price for that. And as one writing team of child advocates penning an article for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange notes, that price is often starkly high in the criminal legal system.
It doesn’t have to be, note those authors. Fairer and more consistent outcomes can prevail for confused young people when they are uniformly dealt with by adults – judges, attorneys, jailers, counselors and other employees – who command specialized training and true experience working with adolescents.
The linked article provides a number of tips relevant to that salutary and ethical goal.
Almost all young people have strong upside potential and merit rehabilitative opportunities. They “are not small adults, they are children,” note the writers.
And, they add, “they deserve our best.”