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Quote of the Day - Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat. - John Lehman
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If We Value Public Trials, Why Not Release Juvenile Names?

If we as Americans value the right to a public trial, why don’t we release names in juvenile proceedings? The argument that we are protecting children from the stigma associated with being adjudicated delinquent doesn’t seem to hold much weight if the goal of the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation rather than punishment. How damaging is the stigma of requiring therapy and rehabilitation these days anyway?

Everyday I witness a multitude of advertisements for mental health treatments and see therapy portrayed as almost inevitable. If Tony Soprano and Adrian Monk get therapy, how great is the stigma? Granted, these are fictional adults and not real children, but I still suggest that if delinquency actually equated to therapy and rehabilitation, society would not attach an overly burdensome or undeserved stigma.

My guess is that the majority of states’ juvenile systems are far more punitive than rehabilitative. Whether this is from lack of funding or changed objectives, I’m not sure, but if this scheme is the case, then the juvenile system looks much more like the adult criminal system where the right to a public trial is well entrenched in the Sixth Amendment. (Although who holds the right to a public trial, accused or the public is a question for another day.)1

Without open public proceedings, how do we know if the juvenile system more closely resembles the English Court of Star Chamber or the father figure judge, with his arm around the accused, providing thoughtful inquisition and careful guidance?

1In Estes v. Texas, 381 U.S. 532, 588 (1965), Justice Harlan suggests in his concurring opinion that the right of “public trial” belongs to the accused rather than the public.

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Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by Michel J. Ayer on Wednesday, July 20, 2005 at 14:40 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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