Thursday, August 24, 2006

Rehabilitation or retribution?

The debate rages on and on, ad nauseum. But it is no more sharply brought into focus than in Kenton, Ohio where two juvenile delinquents were sentenced to a stay in commence after football season.

Their offense?

The teens placed a decoy deer on a dark road in November. When a car crashed while trying to avoid it, two people were severely injured. Driver Robert Roby is now physically disabled; his teenage passenger, Dustin Zachariah, is brain damaged. Three other teens still have court cases pending.

The judge's reasoning makes sense on paper...

"I would love to make (the victims) whole, but you can’t go back and unring a bell," McKinley said. Then, he told a crying Howard: "I’m going let you play football. I’m going to let you have your shot at a scholarship. What you make of it is up to you."

To the attorneys and the courtroom in general, he added: "Denying him an opportunity to play football and denying him an opportunity to go to college isn’t in any way going to help the victims in this case or help society."

Obviously the judge is focused on rehabilitation. But I'm not so sure how I would feel if I were a victim. HOW to accomplish rehabilitative goals is far from an exact science. Granted, the future for these boys should be a consideration. But what rehabilitative qualities will detention have if it does not result in the loss of their freedoms to enjoy those things in life that they now freely enjoy? I'm not convinced that a temporary lock-up, at a person's convenience, holds any teaching value if it is treated merely as a scheduling inconvenience to be worked in when there is a lull in activity.

I do also have to admit to having an anti-football prejudice that makes me question this judge's decision. Would the same accommodation have been made for someone in the drama club? academic decathlon? band? No, never mind, I already know the answer.

Columbus Dispatch article

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